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At 10:16 AM 2/22/2004 -0800, Helen Spiegelman wrote:
Hi all,

I'm on the program committee for a recycling conference here in BC in June. I am wanting to organize a session that would provide businesses & organizations helpful advice on CHOOSING A RECYCLER.

How can you tell a bona-fide recycler from a fly-by-night?

EXAMPLE: our regional district was contacted by a woman wanting to collect cellphones as a fund-raiser for a charity. How should she go about deciding where to take the cellphones she collects?

First question: How is this a bona-fide fund-raiser if she does not already know where to take the phones?

EXAMPLE: a local company here in the Vancouver area has been spamming advertisements for a program that will "revive and resuscitate any 'dead' disposable (non-rechargeable) alkaline batteries, for later re-use". He has signed up several dozen progressive organizations (environment groups, local elected officials, and counter-cultural merchants) who take back dead batteries -- and then purchase "revived" batteries from this contractor for sale to their customers. How do these merchants/organizations know if this guy's process and business are legit?

These sorts of scams can be tough, and generate a seemingly endless debate with a promoter who (sometimes) genuinely believes in his offering. And one must be cautious for legal reasons about saying categorically that something doesn't work. (My impression: Very limited recharging of regular alkaline batteries is sometimes possible; enough to confuse the issue but not worth bothering with.)

How to check it out?

(1) Call battery manufacturers and ask if the product can be "revived." (Hear answer = "no.") (2) Ask promoter for some references and independent verification that his process does what battery manufacturers say can't be done. (Receive big mess of impressive-looking but essentially-meaningless testimonials and "lab reports.") (3) Discuss documentation with battery manufacturer and your friend who is a scientist/engineer..... all this is too much to expect of the well-meaning organizations of the sort you mention. But you can do it, and then try not to let the promotion into your conference.

(In Delaware, the Solid Waste Authority collects batteries and then landfills them.....)

Alan Muller

I can see the relevance of Basel Action Network's "Pledge of True Stewardship" certification program (and I will be following up with Sarah and or Jim on this tomorrow) but I wonder if anyone else has thoughts about this.

The target audience for this session is NOT local governments (issuing RFPs for recycling contracts) but rather businesses that want to recycle their by-product as well as charities or community groups that want to help the community by providing a recycling service for some specific product.



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