Spotlight on WestJet: Recycling Takes Off

WestjetLogoPlaneUntil recently, Rod Perreault, a controlled products specialist at WestJet, has considered battery recycling more of a headache than a benefit. Rod helps the material and technical operations department implement haz-mat waste removal policies for WestJet, a Canadian-based airline with more than 120 aircraft and 10,000 employees.

The previous battery collection and recycling processes offered to WestJet were not working from a cost and efficiency perspective. The suppliers also lacked solid, simple and measured reporting processes detailing collection and pricing.  WestJet, in an effort to constantly improve upon cost-effective processes, required a company that could solve these problems. As a large, operational organization, WestJet generates a significant volume of single-use and rechargeable batteries from flashlights to aircraft maintenance tools and these devices must be replaced regularly due to regulatory requirements.  As WestJet grows, the recycling becomes more of a challenge.

Single Day Implementation

Call2Recycle Canada’s battery recycling program was the perfect answer for WestJet. Call2Recycle collection boxes for smaller quantities or bulk shipping for larger quantities makes sorting much easier and collections are always in compliance with provincial regulations.  WestJet can also document its results with regular Call2Recycle reports. Participating in the program doesn’t cost a dime and the rollout was easy as can be.

The program was implemented as a staged approach starting with their Calgary and Toronto tech-ops locations. This implementation took place on a single day. An internal communication was sent to all employees affected by the initial implementation describing the program and how to use it and, after a short communication phase, employees working in the areas where waste collection boxes were to be placed signed off on a Read and Sign noting that they understood the program and agree to abide by its guidelines. Recycling in the Call2Recycle collection boxes began immediately. The program was a simple implementation and has been ramping up smoothly ever since.

Recycling Fever

Battery recycling fever spread quickly to other parts of the company. When the campus staff located in the adjacent building to the technical operations hangar learned of the battery recycling program being implemented next door, an onslaught of office employees began traipsing across the parking lot to the maintenance area with jars and shoeboxes of used batteries.

“The office heard about the program through word of mouth and began bringing the waste batteries they’ve been storing in the work area to the designated waste area on the materials area,” said Rod. “The first collection box was filled in less than an hour and a second was full by the end of that day. The next day people started bringing their batteries from home as well. People wanted to do the right thing, but our old collection method didn’t make it easy. They wanted to recycle; they just needed access to it.”

The biggest change so far? No more waste battery removal headaches for Rod. “Overnight, battery recycling went from one of my biggest headaches to a self-sufficient program that is tailored to our exact needs. Working in the very competitive airline industry, keeping an eye on costs is important to us, but with the Call2Recycle program we have an absolutely free program that disposes of our waste batteries in a responsible manner, it’s a win / win for both of us!”

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