Role Reversal

When it comes to battery recycling, the South will rise again.

Battery recycling is seeing a modest increase in the United States, but the surplus may be coming from a surprising source. According to a report issued by Call2Recycle, the free battery and cell phone collection program operated by the Atlanta-based non-profit Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation, southern states — traditionally the last to embrace sustainability measures — are recycling far more batteries thus far in 2010 as compared to 2009.

Meanwhile, green stalwarts like California, Minnesota and Vermont have actually seen a decline in battery recycling.

So far in 2010, Call2Recycle says it has seen the largest increases in battery recycling from South Carolina (99 percent), Kentucky (59 percent), Arkansas (55 percent), North Carolina (53 percent) and Mississippi (49 percent). During the same period, it has decreased by 7 percent in California, 25 percent in Minnesota and 3 percent in Vermont.

“The increase in recycling in southern states shows significant changes in behavior,” said Carl Smith, president and CEO of Call2Recycle, in a press release. “Southerners are hearing the message about how important recycling is to the future of their communities, and are acting on it in tangibly positive ways.”

So far this year, Call2Recycle says battery collections from its retail partners are up by 2.6 percent. Industries such as healthcare, higher education and military installments have experienced much larger increases, it says, due to an emphasis on sustainability initiatives in day-to-day operations.

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