Old batteries clogging up the kitchen drawer? No problem.

British Columbia is now the first North American jurisdiction to feature a free government-mandated recycling program for all household batteries.

B.C. Minister of State for Climate Action John Yap and the HouseSmart Referral Network’s Shell Busey joined the program’s CEO, Carl Smith, in making the announcement yesterday.

The Call2Recycle program, active in the province since 1997, will expand to include all lithium ion and rechargeable batteries under five kilograms. It will recycle cellphones and electronic devices, but exclude car batteries.

“By recycling these devices, we reduce the need for raw materials in B.C.,” said Yap.

Recycling would also prevent dangerous heavy metals from leaching into the environment, he added.

According to Brock Macdonald, executive director of the Recycling Council of B.C., the program will generate roughly six recycling jobs in the province for each landfill job it obviates.