Two years ago, Winnipeg resident and city council member Grant Nordman was hovering over his trash, with the battery from his smoke detector in hand, when he had a flash of guilt. He knew if he threw it in the trash, it would go into the landfill. So he placed it in a shoebox. The next day, he headed to his city council office with an idea–the BatBox.
Approximately the size of a quart of milk, the BatBox was designed to hold about 1.81 kg (4 pounds) of batteries; battery recycling information is featured on its sides. A community of handicapped adults assembled the boxes; Nordman and his team of volunteers hand-delivered 3,000 boxes to houses in his ward as part of a pilot. Nordman saw the BatBox as a way to foster interactions with his constituents and be environmentally responsible.
Within a month, Nordman’s phone started ringing off the hook and it has never stopped. Following his early success, Nordman dropped off BatBoxes at the remaining 7,000 households in his ward, for a total of 10,000 households. He picks up the full BatBox and drops off a new one within 24 hours.
“When you add up all the batteries from smoke detectors, remotes, Gameboys, flashlights, hearing aids and wall clocks, it’s a lot. We figured that in a regular four-bedroom bungalow, there were at least five pounds of batteries being used. In the course of a year, some or all would wear out, so each household would produce at least one box of batteries a year,” said Nordman.
Nordman has collected approximately 1,361 kg (3,000 pounds) of dead batteries in under two years. He recycles all the collected batteries through the Call2Recycle program. For his efforts, Nordman was recognized as a Call2Recycle 2014 Leader in Sustainability.
Even though Nordman no longer serves on the city council, the program will continue under his guidance at least for the next year. It’s a lot of work, but Nordman thinks it’s worth continuing and is looking at ways to expand the program into the larger Winnipeg community.
“I have had great conversations with people. People may not agree with my politics, but they liked what we were doing. It’s been worthwhile from an environmental standpoint and it’s been a million laughs getting to know people through the program,” said Nordman who is helping to save our landfill one battery at a time.