Call2Recycle Increases Organizational Efficiency, Powers More Data-Driven Operations With Business Central

Call2Recycle serves consumers and more than 200 battery and battery-powered product companies to help batteries stay out of landfills. To effectively steward these materials and support its sustainability mission, the organization needed to find a unified ERP and CRM tool to tightly manage and track all aspects of its operations. The nonprofit turned to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Microsoft Power Platform to connect employees and processes across the organization. With access to real-time data and automated processes, it reduced task times, cut costs, and better prepared for future growth.


A unique and changing organization

If you’ve ever recycled a battery in the United States, chances are high that it went to Call2Recycle. As the largest battery recycling program in the country, the organization collects many types of single-use and rechargeable batteries at more than 16,000 sites. The nonprofit has recycled 140 million pounds of batteries so far, recovering valuable materials such as cobalt, nickel, and iron, which can be used to manufacture new products like dishware and new batteries.

Call2Recycle began in 1994 and has seen its business—and the industry—change dramatically since then. What started as a small project has grown into a multimillion-dollar nonprofit organization. Gas-powered equipment and tools now have cordless counterparts, such as lawn mowers, power tools, and home generators, which means we’ll soon need to recycle millions of pounds of batteries.

The nonprofit has always faced a unique challenge in its operation because its logistics are reversed: instead of producing goods, it takes them in. That made it hard from the beginning to find an enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool that made sense, especially as the organization continued to grow. Call2Recycle purchased an ERP tool 15 years ago that was suitable for a simpler organization, but the nonprofit began to find its highly customized system limiting. “We wanted to take advantage of the latest in technology and move to an integrated, user-friendly platform, but no off-the-shelf solution existed specifically for what we do in the world of reverse logistics,” says Rob Latham, E-Bike Program Manager at Call2Recycle.

A comprehensive, connected solution

Call2Recycle researched combined ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. That search led to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, which is designed to provide small and midsize businesses with comprehensive capabilities and a lot of integration potential. To further boost its CRM capabilities, the organization adopted Dynamics 365 Sales to manage its end-to-end sales processes. All employees now use Dynamics 365 across operations, finance, services and sales, and more. These staff include customer support who track customer history, operations who manage fulfillment and materials collection, regional program managers who oversee their leads, and senior leadership who monitors dashboards for organizational health.

The nonprofit also turned to Microsoft Power Platform to extend its Dynamics 365 environment. The organization uses Power BI to visualize data and gain advanced analytics, and it uses Power Automate and Power Apps to connect data sources and quickly build and automate workflows. For example, Call2Recycle uses Power Automate to update how collection site customers interact with the e-bike program. Customers sign up on the website and complete a training, which triggers different flows in the back end to automatically set up the customers and create their first orders.

Real-time, self-service data

Call2Recycle’s data used to be siloed, but now it’s centralized and available in real time. That means data is democratized, and staff can respond more quickly to customer needs or operational hiccups. “In the past, we relied on a gatekeeper to provide metrics, create spreadsheets, and email documents to show how the organization was doing. But by the next day, those data points were already outdated,” says Linda Gabor, Executive Vice President of External Relations at Call2Recycle. “With real-time information in Dynamics 365, we immediately see trends with our revenue and customers, and we can act quickly if there’s any kind of service disruption.”

One reason that staff members now get data more easily is because they have more self-service options, which is especially important as the organization continues to grow and add more staff. “Today, to manage our work with hundreds of corporate customers and municipalities at scale requires a sophisticated self-service system, and that’s going to be all the truer the bigger we get,” says Leo Raudys, Chief Executive Officer at Call2Recycle. “Now, instead of asking a colleague for the status of collection site sign-ups for the e-bike program, I can go straight to the dashboard in Dynamics 365.”

Streamlined operations, reduced costs

Call2Recycle improved efficiencies in many of its operations, such as invoicing and billing. For example, customer billing used to take several days to complete each month, but now the process has been automated. “We have a consistent flow of data through Business Central that’s predictable and repeatable, so we can manage a heavily transactional system with fewer resources,” says David Ainsley, Director of IT at Call2Recycle. “By automating processes in Business Central, we save 10 hours per month on invoicing, 8 hours on banking activities like vendor payment uploads, and 12 hours on processing vendor invoice approvals. That frees up time for IT and other staff who support those business processes to actually focus on our mission.”

In addition to time savings, Call2Recycle also reduced costs. It’s saving on developmental expenses because the cost to refine its new platform is considerably less than the cost to customize its old systems. The organization also saves approximately $25,000 in annual fees, licenses, and hardware support that its previous systems required.

Technology to thrive in the future

By choosing Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform, Call2Recycle found a solution that’s flexible enough for its unique reverse-logistics needs and its future evolution. The organization is now prepared for changing customer and industry expectations, such as the increased importance of battery trackability and traceability. “We’ve catapulted into an intense period of electrification in all sectors of society, and batteries are at the heart of that,” says Raudys. “There’s an increasing thirst for information about how batteries are managed at end of life, which requires us to get smarter about the overall impacts on the value chain and knowing where individual batteries go. We’re seeing a massive expansion in our scope, which we couldn’t manage without a modern system like Dynamics 365.”

Part of that expansion in scope also means serving new customers and anticipating business growth. “By adopting Dynamics 365, we’ve opened doors with new customers because we can now capably build out processes in our system to meet changing needs for traceability and trackability,” concludes Raudys. “Using a system that can be modified to meet these new demands is critical to our growth.”

” With real-time information in Dynamics 365, we immediately see trends with our revenue and customers, and we can act quickly if there’s any kind of service disruption.”

Linda Gabor:
Executive Vice President of External Relations


“By automating processes in Business Central, we save 10 hours per month on invoicing, 8 hours on banking activities like vendor payment uploads, and 12 hours on processing vendor invoice approvals.”

David Ainsley:
Director of IT


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