Snohomish County, Wash., is reducing its carbon footprint by offering a high-yielding battery recycling program to its residents. The solid waste department in Snohomish County has achieved several sustainability awards from organizations such as Call2Recycle and was most recently named a Call2Recycle Top 100 Leader in Sustainability for battery recycling in 2022. The county was notified and awarded this achievement in early 2023. Additionally, the program has received a 2016 Leader in Sustainability Award and the 2020 Top 100 Leader from Call2Recycle, to name a few accomplishments.
Snohomish County Solid Waste has an impressive record of recycling batteries and household wastes. Solid waste diverted more than 32,000 pounds of batteries from area landfills in 2022, a March 2023 Snohomish County press release stated. During 2022, 2.7 million pounds of hazardous material were reused or recycled. In 2020, the county reported it had hit a record of over 8 million pounds of consumer batteries recycled.
Snohomish County provides rural drop box locations, and transfer stations to its residents to encourage battery and hazardous waste recycling. All waste facilities in Snohomish County also accept batteries, as well as select retailers. The county provides a full list to residents on their county website, snohomiscountywa.gov, as well as resources and connections with Call2Recycle.
“Snohomish County Public Works collects batteries at its solid waste transfer stations, rural drop box locations and Household Hazardous Waste facility,” Jon Greninger, Snohomish County Public Works Solid Waste Operations manager, said. “In addition, solid waste staff maintains small collection boxes at county administration offices for employees and visitors. The county does not capture large li-ion batteries out of hybrid vehicles or larger power banks.”
The program primarily focuses on household batteries, Greninger stated. Batteries are collected by the household hazardous waste staff and are sorted by chemistry and packed according to the 49 Code of Federal Regulations, which includes essential Department of Transportation regulations. HHW staff will then ship the batteries to select vendors for end-of-life remediation or to be recycled.
The 49 CFR DOT includes regulations that encompass hazardous materials transportation and federal motor carrier regulations. If dealing in hazardous materials, hazardous waste or functioning as a shipper, carrier or freight forwarder, organizations must comply with 49 CFR DOT.
“The Call2Recycle program is state-of-the-art in recycling rechargeable batteries,” Greninger said. “Call2Recycle receives any nickel-metal, nickel-cadmium, lithium-ion, primary lithium and some of the small pb batteries.”
Call2Recycle is a United States-based, not-for-profit organization that focuses on reducing hazardous waste in compliance with state and national regulations. According to Call2Recycle’s website, call2recycle.org, the organization has been refining and improving its practices to advance operational effectiveness since 1994.
“In the 25 years we have been operating our recycling program, we have worked with various companies and municipalities that share our core value — to do the right thing for the environment,” the Call2Recycle website states.
“Snohomish County’s efforts helped the Call2Recycle program collect nearly 8 million pounds of consumer batteries in the United States,” the March 2023 Snohomish County press release states.
The Snohomish County battery recycling program began in 2004. In 2021, Snohomish County reported it was the largest consumer battery stewardship program in North America. Batteries that are collected and managed by Call2Recycle are often recycled into new products such as pots and pans, silverware, and even new batteries.
“For more than 20 years, Call2Recycle has worked to responsibly manage the collection and recycling of batteries and other materials,” a March 2021 Snohomish County press release states. “It is the oldest and largest consumer battery stewardship program in North America. The organization performs this work on behalf of more than 300 battery and battery powered product companies.”
According to snohomishcountywa.gov, the public works department is responsible for approximately 1,600 miles of county roads, more than 200 bridges and manages approximately 200 traffic control signals. “The department also processes nearly 600,000 tons of garbage per year. Its mission is to focus on safety and mobility while practicing fiscal responsibility and preserving the environment,” the county website states.