Implementing a sustainable ADCP battery disposal program in Brazil
Find out how the Nortek Brazil team and partners have navigated challenges and found solutions to establish a system for proper disposal of batteries used in ADCPs for oceanographic research.
“Oceanographic equipment is typically powered by alkaline and lithium battery packs, grouping dozens of batteries in a set,” says Diego Bitencourt, Director of Nortek Brazil. Bitencourt first recognized this as a challenge during his previous experience working in oceanography and deploying ADCPs.
“In these campaigns, we removed the used battery pack and installed a new one. Sometimes we had no sustainable option for proper disposal of these used batteries,” he says.
Inspired by these past experiences, Bitencourt and the team at Nortek Brazil have set a goal to improve battery disposal processes in Brazil for the batteries used in Nortek instruments.
An alkaline battery pack, a grouping of dozens of batteries in one set, being installed into an external battery canister.
Handling a Nortek battery pack. When this pack is no longer usable it will be discarded through a reverse logistics project.
Sustainable battery disposal – identifying challenges and solutions
“We saw that we needed to solve two major issues: Firstly, logistics – connecting the dots between those who want to dispose of batteries and companies that dispose of them properly,” says Bitencourt. “The second issue was engaging and informing users about how they should proceed when disposing of battery packs.”
After working with a Brazilian consultancy company specializing in sustainability, the Nortek team understood that the project would need to be supported by multiple partners spread across Brazil to assist as ADCP users flagged batteries for disposal.
The consulting company looked into existing reverse logistics projects in Brazil, systems designed to return goods from customers back to their manufacturers. They found that most battery manufacturers had several disposal points in Brazil.
Read more about Nortek's sustainability plans and actions.
The Nortek team then needed to identify the correct partners to successfully execute their own reverse logistics project for battery disposal, as well as identify how the batteries would be transported.
A not-so-simple path
One of the main problems involving reverse logistics in Brazil is the lack of transparency regarding the destination of the batteries and the processes to be used in their disposal. The Nortek Brazil team wanted to ensure proper final disposal of the batteries once they had been collected through the disposal program.
Another main challenge was managing widely dispersed requests for battery collection and disposal, from Rio Grande do Sul to Amapá.
“We saw a solution to these complex challenges when we found the company Ecoassist, which has positioned itself as a company that deals with the most varied types of waste from all over Brazil,” says Bitencourt. “All of their processes are certified and safe, both for its employees and for the environment. In addition, they also have a logistics network that covers the whole of Brazil, solving both of our major challenges.”
ADCP battery disposal – implementation and success
“It was clear to us that our goal with this sustainability initiative should be to make reverse logistics simple,” says Bitencourt. “We are always aiming to make our customers’ lives easier, while doing our part to protect the environment.”
Diego visiting the partner company Ecoassist to learn more about the battery disposal process, 2022.
“Our process is tightly regulated and documented through our partner company Ecoassist,” says Bitencourt.
According to Bitencourt, with Ecoassist, all the steps of the battery disposal process are thoroughly documented, from the moment they leave their origin facility to their final destination, including all treatments and processes the materials go through along the way.
Booklet developed by Nortek Brazil to disseminate the reverse logistics process, 2021.
An informative booklet was also developed by Nortek to help spread the word about the project, in accordance with Brazil’s National Solid Waste Policy.
“With bold goals and a focus on acting locally, we will continue gathering feedback and thinking about the next steps we can take to help support sustainability in our region,” Bitencourt concludes.
Read more about high-quality batteries for Nortek ADCP users in Brazil.