Recharging Forward

Americans recycled more rechargeable batteries in 2007.

Americans have steadily increased the amount of rechargeable batteries collected since 2003. The most recent annual report by the Atlanta-based Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) shows that in 2007, collection amounts increased by 12 percent — to more than 6.3 million pounds — from the previous year.

Through its Call2Recycle program, with more than 50,000 collection spots located at retailers and public spots throughout North America, RBRC collects both cell phones and rechargeable batteries commonly found in wireless devices. Last year's total was an increase from 5.6 million pounds in 2006, 5 million pounds in 2005, 4.4 million pounds in 2004 and 4.1 million pounds in 2003.

“We are proud to report an increase in rechargeable battery collection numbers this year, which is a true testament to the efforts and participation of our many retail, consumer and community partners who have joined forces to further raise awareness of rechargeable battery recycling,” said Doug Smith, chairman of the Board of Directors for RBRC and director of corporate environmental affairs for Sony Electronics, in a press release. “Additional factors such as state and local legislation and grassroots involvement have helped boost overall environmental awareness and underscore the importance of rechargeable battery recycling.”

RBRC cited Circuit City's efforts to educate consumers on the importance of protecting the environment and provide individual collection bags to all customers making an online purchase, and the passage of rechargeable battery legislation in New York City as specific efforts that contributed to the collection increase.

Similar legislation in Maine, which was passed in June 2007 and went into effect last month, requires cell phone retailers to provide collection services for customers looking to get rid of their old phones.

“The bottom line is to reduce the incidence of incineration and disposal in landfills, and to have the industry accept responsibility for proper disposal when consumers offer their phones,” says state Rep. Christopher Babbidge, D-Maine, who proposed the legislation in 2005. His proposal was patterned after a similar effort in California. In response, RBRC offered its program free of charge to more than 275 retailers in the state to reach full compliance with the new legislation.

“Making available a cell phone recycling program like Call2Recycle is an easy and immediate way for retailers to be more environmentally conscious, and to help their customers adopt a simple, green practice by encouraging them to recycle old cell phones and used rechargeable batteries,” said Norm England, CEO and president of RBRC, in a press release. “We will continue to support our participating retailers in Maine who are already enrolled in the program and look forward to assisting more local retailers as they institute their own free and easy cell phone and rechargeable battery recycling programs.”

RBRC recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary in Canada. In that time, it has operated more than 7,000 collections, totaling more than 2 million pounds of rechargeable batteries and cell phones. Last year, RBRC collected more than 500,000 pounds of material in Canada, which was an increase of 9 percent from the 2006 totals. In addition, RBRC also partnered with the New Mexico Recycling Coalition and the city of Albuquerque for New Mexico Recycle Awareness Month, which has collected more than 6,000 pounds of material since it began in 2003

For more information about the 2007 collection results or the Call2Recycle program, visit