Photo: Courtesy of Greenpeace Argentina.
Some may argue that Greenpeace has its twisted ways, but sometimes they just nail it. In Argentina, last year there was a huge controversy over a used batteries recycling program by the Buenos Aires government: essentially they were collecting them without a clear plan on what to do with this highly toxic waste, and when a province from the interior of the country said they were not taking them into their landfills, well, they were left with tons of batteries sitting in a deposit. After months of an aggressive campaign from Greenpeace's local office, Procter & Gamble, importer of Duracell batteries here, has agreed to take responsibility for their waste and find a correct way to dispose them. This is huge, really. More inside.Originally, the batteries collection program was launched by the Buenos Aires government in 2008. On a first phase, the authorities collected 10 tons of batteries that the locals deposited in containers in different neighbor offices. Later on, the government called the companies that manufacture and import these batteries to take voluntary responsibility for the waste (which they didn't).
So the government set off to ship and store the batteries in a security landfill in Cordoba, a province in the center of Argentina. But the citizens complained and they were rejected. The same happened when they tried to bury them in a landfill in the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
And so, in the middle of large media attention about the issue, began the Greenpeace campaign to force the companies to stop looking in the other direction.
After a few months, Procter & Gamble announced yesterday that they would take responsibility for their waste. The NGO is now demanding Energizer Argentina to do the same.
With the politically correct language though, it's still tricky to understand what the agreement really means: "Through a letter directed to the environmental organization, Duracell representatives have manifested their will to take responsibility with their resources and knowledge to look for an environmentally adequate solution to the problem". Still, the fact that a company is taking charge for the processing of their waste is something to note in Argentina.
It could be easier in the future, if the national Senate approves a law on e-waste that is being discussed now, and that could enforce the 'producer extended responsibility' for manufacturing and importing companies to consider the collection and final disposition of their products.
We'll have to see what PG does with this huge pile of toxics now and if Energizer will follow suit, but it's a start that the ball is on their side.
More on E-Waste Management:
EPA Decides To Take e-Waste (Sort of) Seriously. Finally.
New York Toughens Up on Electronics Manufacturers with New e-Waste Law
Without New Recycling Schemes, Solar Industry to Perpetuate e-Waste Problem