Physio-Control Integrates Rechargeable Battery Recycling Into its Culture

iStock_000010469722MediumIn a life-threatening emergency, the last thing first responders need to worry about is whether the equipment has charged batteries.  This issue is especially important to Physio-Control, a leading manufacturer of professional emergency medical response solutions for hospitals, emergency responders, and the workplace and community since 1955.

Fully charged rechargeable batteries play a critical part in the success of Physio-Control’s products.  Physio-Control designs custom, technologically advanced rechargeable batteries to be used in devices such as its LUCAS® 2 Chest Compression Systems, LIFEPAK® 15 Monitor/Defibrillators and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs).  Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries are marked with the Call2Recycle® battery recycling seal so customers recognize they can be recycled.

Physio-Control is not just concerned with the life of the battery, but also with what happens to the batteries after they’ve been used.  Rechargeable batteries may contain metals that can be harmful to the environment if disposed of improperly.  The company wanted to make sure the potentially harmful materials were diverted from the solid waste stream and the by-products were recycled into new products.

“We are committed to leaving a smaller carbon footprint.  We want to ensure our batteries do not end up in landfill,” said John Ebsen, global manager of facilities, Physio-Control. “It’s a corporate commitment. We want to properly dispose of waste as part of our processes. We want to make sure we are recycling.  It is an important issue around the globe.”

The importance of recycling is stated clearly in Physio-Control’s corporate goals: “Our commitment is to conserve natural resources, promote energy efficiency and eliminate waste to achieve both environmental and business benefits. Our goal is to divert the highest possible amount of materials from the landfill through recycling.”

The corporate commitment translates directly to Physio-Control’s work policies.  All new team members and contractors are trained about recycling in orientation.  Headquarter buildings have recycling centers to make it accessible to everyone.  Field service engineers are trained in how to collect and ship batteries for recycling.

Recycling: A Partnership

Physio-Control has partnered with Call2Recycle, North America’s first and largest battery stewardship organization, to ensure that the batteries are recycled responsibly.  Physio-Control’s field service engineers in both the U.S. and Canada collect used rechargeable batteries that weigh up to 11 pounds (5 kg) during their regular service calls. They then ship the batteries to the company’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters for consolidation.

From there, the batteries are shipped to Call2Recycle’s U.S. sorters and processors where they are sorted by chemistry and battery type. The company uses bulk shipping for their Ni-Cd and Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries; Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries are shipped in Call2Recycle collection boxes. The batteries are melted down into by-products that can be used to make new batteries, stainless steel alloy and cement additives. To ensure that the batteries are safely and efficiently transported and processed, Call2Recycle follows the stringent guidelines set forth in third-party certifications from Responsible Recycling (R2) and the Basel Action Network (BAN).

In 2012, the company shipped 49,000 lbs. of Ni-Cd batteries to Call2Recycle. Since 2000, the company has shipped 661,000 lbs. of rechargeable batteries to Call2Recycle for recycling.

Ebsen credits the success to Call2Recycle’s ability to tailor a program to their needs. Call2Recycle’s regular reports help Physio-Control meet its federal and state record-keeping requirements as well and analyze and monitor collection trends. Reports drill down into the battery type, volume and frequency of shipments.

“The most valuable service that Call2Recycle provides is the people.  We know that we have good, reputable people dealing with recycling. They share our concern that the disposal process is being carried out appropriately,” said Ebsen.

“For the past 13 years Call2Recyle has worked with Physio-Control to keep rechargeable batteries out of the landfill,” said Sean Burchill, western account manager, Call2Recycle. “The company definitely stands out as a recycling leader in the medical equipment industry.”

Leader in Sustainability

In 2012, Physio-Control was recognized for its efforts to steer hazardous materials away from local landfills with a Call2Recycle Leader in Sustainability Award. This award is given to companies that show a strong commitment to sustainability in the environment. The company is also an industry steward that helps fund the Call2Recycle recycling program.

“Physio-Control recognizes that both excellent customer service and responsible recycling can be achieved through the Call2Recycle rechargeable battery recycling program. They have shown their commitment to sustainability by ingraining it into their work culture,” said Carl Smith, CEO and president, Call2Recycle. “The partnership has delivered results of which both organizations can be proud.”

Physio-Control team members have been successful in working with Call2Recycle to meet their corporate goal of diverting the highest possible amount of battery materials from the landfill through recycling.  Ebsen expects this tradition to continue well into the future.

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