Texas Healthcare Facilities Win Top EPA Honors

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded top honors to two Texas medical facilities as part of the Energy Star National Building Competition. Representatives from more than three thousand buildings across the nation competing throughout the year to determine which building could reduce its energy use the most.

In Killeen, the Metroplex Adventist Hospital reduced its energy use by close to fifteen percent, the great amount of any hospital entered in the competition. In Woodlands, Memorial Hermann Southwest took top honors in category for medical office by reducing energy use by slightly over eight percent. Close to fifty buildings in this year’s competition showed energy reductions of twenty percent or more over the course of the year due to improved conservation practices, Energy Star equipment, and increased opportunities for all employees to be involved in the decision making process.

The competition is designed to target wasteful energy habits and motivate building managers, owners, and employees to better their energy efficiency and save money. Many participating businesses and organizations use the competition to increase employee involvement in energy reduction and waste recycling activities and conduct training and development to ensure everyone is aware how important “reduce, reuse and recycle” is to both the environment and the bottom line.

Commercial buildings in the US are responsible for a cost of more than one hundred billion dollars per year on energy use. Businesses and organizations working with the EPA’s Energy Star program can save money every year and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If you’re a facilities manager at a hospital or healthcare complex, consider using tools and resources from Energy Star. Sometimes even small changes such such powering down non-essential computer equipment, having motion sensor lighting, and increasing recycling accessibility can result in huge savings!

EPA Announces Top Cities For Energy Star Construction

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced its list of the top metropolitan areas in the USA with the greatest number of certified Energy Star commercial buildings. The leading ten cities on the list included: Los Angeles, California; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, Georgia; New York City; San Francisco, California; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Municipalities and business with buildings utilizing green construction and energy star designation save money due to energy efficiency and promote improved public health by a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

Commercial buildings are responsible for seventeen percent of energy used through the nation. Certified Energy Star commercial and industrial buildings save on average fifty cents per square foot in operations costs than non-green friendly buildings, and consume approximately two times less power and energy than traditional buildings.

There are currently twenty three thousand buildings throughout the US that have earned the Energy Star certification. The total combined saving in utility costs for these buildings is more than three billion dollars.

To earn the Energy Star certification, a building must perform in the top twenty five percent for energy efficiency compared to comparable buildings throughout the nation and be verified by a registered architect or licensed professional engineer. All types of buildings can achieve Energy Star designation including schools, office buildings, hotels and retail establishments. In addition, there are now one and a half million homes and twenty three thousand commercial and industrial buildings that have been awarded the Energy Star label.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: These Energy Star award winning cities show the economic and environmental benefits that can be achieved when facility managers and owners apply proven approaches to energy efficiency. When was the last time your facility had an energy audit? Going green with Energy Star updates can help to save you green in the long run!

Do You Having Recycling Smarts?

A recent research study conducted by the National Waste and Recycling Association showed that while more than half of the adult population in the United States has access to municipality provided curbside recycling, more education and awareness is needed for the public to understand which waste objects can and should be recycled.

The study, which surveyed more than two thousand people over the age of eighteen, showed that roughly sixty percent of Americans who have curbside recycling services in their community understand what waste items should be placed in the recycling bin. The study concluded that cities and towns could reduce municipal solid waste if the additional thirty percent of the population recycled more.

Areas where consumers lacked understanding included which plastic bags can be recycled and the necessity of rinsing food containers. Additionally, twenty percent of those surveyed said that they would place an item in a recycling bin despite being uncertain if it could be recycled. Recommendations for improving education include easy to find instructions on local government websites, magnets or flyers that can be posted near recycling bins, and stickers that could be placed directly on recycling containers.

Greater knowledge of a community’s recycling policies can help to ensure that the maximum amount of recyclable material is collected while reducing the amount of waste materials that can contaminate the stream or otherwise damage equipment or facilities.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Does your business or place of employment have clear policies and instructions for recycling? Do your employees or co-workers have a solid understanding of what waste materials should be recycled? Make sure everyone has “recycling smarts” by having information clearly posted and available. You’ll save money on disposal fees and feel good about going green!

Convenience Boosts Recycling Habits

A recent research study of consumer habits has shown that people typically have consistent recycling habits in the home setting, but efforts to decrease the amount of waste disposed can be impacted by lack of space, sufficiently large recycling bins, and labeling on plastic bottles, cans, and other materials indicating if they can or cannot be recycled.

While over seventy two percent of consumers surveyed say they regularly recycle in the home, only half have collection bin outside of the kitchen area. As a result, less waste materials that are generated in other parts of the home end up being recycled. The key solution to this problem is to have recycling containers placed throughout a residential structure in places such as the home office, bathrooms, workroom or garage, and gathering spaces such as a family room or recreational space.

For those consumers who recycle regularly, ten percent say it is because it is required in their community and over forty percent say it is because they care about reducing waste in landfills and helping to improve the environment. Consumers cite the most difficult part of recycling is lack of easy identification on packages, either through the universal use of the recycling symbol or other printed instructions. The study found that knowing quickly and easily if and how waste materials can be recycled would improve the amount of items successfully recycled.

WasteCare Wants Your to Remember: Knowledge and convenience go together when you are trying to increase your recycling rate at home or the office. Be sure to take the time to educate family and employees about what can and should be recycled and then make it easy for them to do so by placing recycling collection bins in key locations. In no time you’ll see your amount of waste decrease and your recycling increase!

Michigan Plans For Waste Materials Recycling Boost

Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder is hoping to save taxpayers money by rolling out a new fifteen-point strategic plan designed to increase access to residential recycling services in all areas of the state.

In addition, Snyder has also enhanced the capabilities of the newly created Michigan Recycling Council so that implementation of the plan can begin without delay.

The new recycling plan contains four key components: implement better tracking and measure systems to gauge recycling progress; improve recycling awareness and education and make technical assistance more accessible; make recycling more convenient for all Michigan residents; and develop markets for the sale of recycled waste materials.

Currently, Michigan’s overall residential recycling rate is close to fifteen percent. Michigan’s recycling rate is far lower than other states in the Great Lakes region and below the national average. Recent studies have shown that over four hundred and thirty five million dollars worth of valuable metals, paper, glass, and plastics are not recycled and re-sold, but instead disposed of in landfills at a significant cost to the state and taxpayers.

The governor is recommending one million dollars be spent to launch the Michigan Recycling Council along with five hundred thousand dollars being made available as grants to support already existing local recycling programs. If even a portion of the currently discarded recyclable material can be resold, the program would not only pay for itself, but also provide an income source for the state.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: When was the last time you looked at your waste disposal and waste recycling habits at home and on the job? Are people recycling all that they can, or are some valuable items ending up in the trash? Scheduling periodic evaluations can help to save you money and make sure all residents or employees are doing their part!

College Campuses Go Green With RecycleMania

Final results show that colleges and universities involved with the RecycleMania campus recycling competition composted and recycled nearly ninety million pounds of organic waste and recyclable waste material during the 2014 contest.

In total, four hundred and sixty one educational institutions across the United States and Canada participated with more than five million students involved. Ohio’s Antioch University claimed first place with a per student recycling rate of slightly over ninety three percent. Kalamazoo College in Michigan came in first at nearly forty nine pounds for most recycled pounds per person. Florida’s Valencia College took top honors in the category for least waste generated per student with a little under three pounds.

The eight-week annual college campus competition is organized in part by Keep America Beautiful, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the College and University Recycling Coalition. The recycling competition was started in 2001 as a friendly wager between Ohio University and Miami University to see who could boost recycling levels the most. There are now over six hundred schools that have participated in the challenge and the average total weight of all materials composted and recycled by all participants combined exceeds ninety one million pounds annually.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If you’re a facilities manager or maintenance executive for a college or university, participating in the annual RecycleMania competition is a great way to jump start or improve your waste reduction and recycling efforts. It’s also an ideal and affordable way to secure valuable recycling bins and educational materials and resources that can help your campus to recycle waste materials more without hurting your bottom line. If your school hasn’t participated in RecycleMania yet, there’s no time like the present to make a change and sign up for the 2015 competition. You’ll go green and save green at the same time!


More Recycling Bins For New York City

Visitors, business owners, and residents in New York City will soon notice more designated recycling bins on city streets and public spaces in the coming weeks and months. City administrators have committed to doubling the number of public recycling bins and increased the number of locations for placement of bins.

The city is currently in the process of placing over one thousand three hundred brand new outdoor recycling containers. The effort is an initiative through the Department of Sanitation for New York City  with a goal of increasing the city’s recycling rate to thirty percent. The new deployment of bins will raise the number of public recycling bins to two thousand eight hundred with increased placement of recycling containers in public parks, high traffic sidewalks, sports and recreation venues, community recreational building and business districts throughout the municipality.

The increase in recycling comes after a long term analysis that much of the trash that many New Yorkers throw into garbage cans is recyclable: newspapers, plastic bottles, paper goods and cans. These items can be easily recycled but once co-mingled with other forms of garbage become contaminated and are no longer ideal for recycling.

The new recycling containers are visually appealing and designed for easy access. All new containers are silver with either a green top to indicate paper recycling or a blue top to indicate glass, plastic, metal, or waxed cartons.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If you want your employees, customers, or residents to reduce their waste and improve their recycling, having more designated containers in high use or well traveled areas is essential. If you’re struggling to improve your recycling, changing the placement of containers, or adding few more might help you collect more and save more!


EPA Provides Guidance For PCB Lighting

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has important resources for school administrators and building maintenance and construction personnel about the need to properly maintain and dispose of fluorescent lighting that uses polychlorinated biphenyls (commonly referred to as PCBs). Many older lights and their ballasts contain PCBs that can leak as they age, resulting in elevated levels of airborne PCBs. Elevated PCB levels due to old lighting does not cause an immediate threat, but could result in health concerns if allowed to persist over time.

In the past two years, over one hundred and fifty incidents of PCB leaks in schools have been reported to the EPA from buildings in the New York and New Jersey area. When exposed to high levels of PCBs over time, a number of serious health effects including cancer, and negative effects on the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems have been documented.

The EPA banned the use of PCBs in 1979, but fluorescent lights and their ballasts that were previously installed or purchased before the phase-out may contain PCBs and at this point in time are most likely leaking – exposing those who work or live near them to the harmful chemicals. It is strongly recommended that any PCB-containing lighting and their ballasts be safely removed from buildings to prevent environmental hazards.

In addition to removing a toxic hazard, updating lighting will result in an increase of energy efficiency by up to fifty percent over the old models. Schools and municipalities looking for information about energy savings and possible funding for removal of PCBs should visit the EPA’s Energy Star website.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If you’re the facilities manager for a school, hospital, or older commercial or industrial building, make sure you’re aware of where old PCB lighting may be in your facility. In addition to keeping workers and students safe from toxins, you might be able to save on your energy bills when you upgrade to new, PCB-free models!

Grocer Wins EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge Award

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Sustainable Materials Management Program recently awarded the Shop-Rite grocery store chain as a winner in the nation-wide Food Recovery Challenge that is sponsored by the EPA. Based on data collected throughout 2012, the Shop-Rite store in the Roxborough neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania attained the highest increase in food waste diversion and recycling compared to data collected for the previous year.

Store management says the improvement was a result of the commitment to donating food deemed edible and composting all food that was not. As a result of the store’s changes in food disposal policies, the diverted food waste was able to provide nutritious meals to community members in need and be used in the production of nutrient-rich compost for use by regional farmers and landscapers.

Nationally in 2011, more than thirty six million tons of food waste was generated with close to ninety six percent being placed into landfills and incinerators. However, close to twenty percent of all Americans are in need of some form of food assistance for themselves or their families. Shop-Rite’s participation in the Food Recovery Challenge not only helped to save the store money in waste disposal fees but also helped residents of the local community in need of a helping hand.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Does your business or employer generate significant amounts of food and organic waste on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? Not only can you cut costs and reduce your contributions to landfills by donating un-sellable but viable food to local charities, but it can also gain you some good press. Helping others can help your business in more ways than one!

General Motors Reaches For Zero-Waste

The Midwest United States might be cold and covered in snow this winter, but two General Motors distribution facilities are no longer covering regional landfills with material waste any more.

GM distribution facilities in Chicago, Illinois and Hudson, Wisconsin have recently reached their environmental sustainability goals of attaining a status of being landfill-free, meaning that all waste generated daily is recycled, reused or used for energy conversion.

The two facilities are used primarily for customer service and help to facilitate the delivery of GM parts to car dealerships throughout the country. The two locations are responsible for processing thousands of shipments annually, so it was essential to develop a strategy to recycle and re-use the cardboard shipping materials and wood pallet waste that accumulated on a daily basis.

The Chicago facility estimated that it process over twenty five tons of waste cardboard every year – that total weight is slightly more than twenty automobiles! The financial cost of disposing of that much waste in a landfill is also significant so the switch to recycling not only reduces disposal fees but also earns GM’s recycling partners one hundred dollars for each ton of cardboard.

The local recycling partners are responsible for the recyclables, but employees at all levels of the organization are responsible for achieving waste reduction success. GM’s goal is to have all of its one hundred and twenty five facilities be landfill-free by 2020.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, it pays to have a strategic plan in place when it comes to recycling. Chart you progress one month at a time and develop your ideas as you go along. In no time you’ll be saving green while “going green”!