All 37 Longo's stores across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) are now participating in the program, having officially joined on September 12. The Call2Recycle network stands at over 2,600 battery collection sites across the province.
“It's such a natural fit with what Longo’s is doing with their sustainability initiatives and in-store activation,” Jon McQuaid, Call2Recycle’s vice-president of marketing, communications and innovation, told SustainableBiz.
Toronto-based Call2Recycle is the provincially-approved consumer battery collection and recycling program for B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and P.E.I. It operates as a registered Producer Responsibility Organization in Ontario, according to Ontario Batteries Regulation.
Call2Recycle accepts household batteries weighing up to five kilograms for recycling, as well as batteries used to power any electric vehicle. Collected batteries are sent for processing, where valuable materials like metal alloys are retrieved and used to make new products.
Since its 1997 founding, the organization has grown to over 400 members, including producers of single-use and rechargeable batteries. Its collection network numbers over 10,000 locations across Canada.
Call2Recycle and Longo’s
Longo’s is a family-owned operation founded in 1956 and is headquartered in Vaughan, Ont. Conversations between the grocer and Call2Recycle began at the end of 2022.
“Discussions happened towards the end of last year, and we actually implemented a three-store pilot at the beginning of this year. The results were tremendous, the team was happy with the with the results, and the pilot program . . . grew to rolling out to all 37 locations,” McQuaid said.
The pilot program ran between eight and 10 weeks for the three locations in the GTA.
“Because they're all in the GTA, we have a direct pickup service model. So our service provider will go pick up the collection boxes when they're full with batteries, and then the reporting and all that,” McQuaid explained. “So the team just really wanted to see how the program is as turnkey as possible.”
For both the pilot and the full rollout, Call2Recycle shares how much tonnage is avoided through the collection network on a store-by-store basis with its partners – however, McQuaid did not reveal numbers specific to Longo’s.
He confirmed any future Longo’s locations would become a part of the collection network as well.
McQuaid also spoke to the potential for educational opportunities for the Longo’s team on battery safety, battery recycling, education, tonnage and impact.
“For example, we work with our downstream partners, our sorters and our battery processors. So perhaps there's an opportunity down the road to get a group of individuals that are very passionate in sustainability and recycling,” McQuaid said, “and let's do a trip to one of our processing partners and (get) a behind-the-scenes look.”
Call2Recycle’s future growth
While McQuaid did not delve into specifics, he did discuss the organization’s plans to add more grocers and retailers to its collection network.
“We work with hundreds of municipalities across Canada,” he said. “We work with over 150 alone here in Ontario, so we want to make sure that it's accessible, convenient and the grocery and retail train is certainly a channel of growth that we're having discussions with to add to our growing collection network.”
In December last year, Call2Recycle released a report alongside the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association recommending a national end-of-life battery strategy for electric vehicles. Any growth of Call2Recycle’s network, like with Longo’s, aids in developing that strategy.
“Across the country, and within each province, we're really focused on maximizing diversion of batteries from landfills,” McQuaid said.
"By working with great partners like Longo’s and adding more accessible points for consumers to drop off batteries for recycling, we're helping to achieve that.”