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RECYCLING

Paper

Aluminum

Plastic

Glass

Compost

Sustainable Purchasing

Recycling Resources 


Paper

The U.S. EPA estimates that 40% of all our garbage is made of highly-recyclable paper and paperboard. By recycling more paper at the office, you are also reducing the amount of garbage that will have to be picked-up, driven to a facility/landfill, and processed. Garbage services are charged by the cubic yard; in addition to freeing up valuable landfill space, recycling saves money!

Most paper waste is generated from basic office duties (faxes, copies, etc.); this volume can be slimmed by changing printers & fax machines from single-sided to double-sided copy setting. A great deal of paper waste also arrives through the mail. It is always wise to recycle unwanted mail; but the Oklahoma Recycling Association (OKRA) suggests three ways to stop junk mail at the source:

  1. Register with the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service.
  2. Contact each individual mailer and ask them to remove your name.
  3. Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT to stop credit card offers. You will need your Social Security number ready to confirm your identity.

 Tips!

 1. Use both sides of a sheet of paper when possible.

  • Make a notepad by stapling papers together that are printed on only one side. Great for scribbling phone messages.
  • Paper with printing on only one side can also be used in fax machines as they only need one side.

 2. Go paperless!

  • Whenever possible, try to simplify office processes by converting paper- heavy tasks to an electronic format.
  • Electronic purchasing and direct deposit can reduce paper use.
  • Paperless archiving and storage can free up valuable office space.
  • Many state agencies have made the switch to paperless and, according  to Go Green Oklahoma, agencies that switched have saved a combined 36.1 million sheets of paper since January 2007.

 3. Re-use manila envelopes for inter-agency mailing. 

 4. Use agency networks or e-mail to edit & share draft documents.

 5. Pack a waste-free lunch.

  • Use a reusable lunch box/bag, re-usable containers and pack only what you plan to eat that day.
  • Reduces both food waste and packing waste.

Aluminum

Recycling aluminum is a good way to not only prevent waste, but also to save energy. Aluminum does not biodegrade easily and will last for years in a landfill. By reducing the amount of garbage produced, an inter-office recycling program will assist your office in minimizing landfill contributions.

Recycling companies will compensate you for recycling aluminum; these funds provide a golden opportunity for your office’s efforts to support any number of credible charities. Setting up a recycling system for aluminum cans is a great way to show your agency’s initiative & start reducing your agency’s environmental impact!

 Tips!

 1. Start an office recycling collection! 

  • Designate a recycling coordinator.
  • Find a local recycling center.
  • Place a recycling bin in a common area.
  • Rotate transportation responsibilities.                   

Plastic

Recycling plastic is an important effort when attempting to reduce your impact on the environment. Most plastics are made from the man-made polymer, polyethylene, which microorganisms do not recognize as food. This inability to biodegrade poses a serious problem when, according to Earth911.com, nearly 8 out of 10 plastic bottles end up in landfills.

Plastics are sometimes incinerated to free up room at landfills; however, this process takes one problem and solves it by causing another. When plastic is burned, the chemicals used to manufacture the plastic are released into the air in the form of greenhouse gases.   

 Tips!

 1. Minimize use.

  • Try to eliminate any unnecessary plastics from your daily life (i.e. new water bottles). According to the Container Recycling Institute, “More than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day.”  
  • You may also request that manufacturers use no plastic packaging when shipping a product to you.

 2. Reuse containers.

  • Most people drink from a new plastic bottle everyday and often toss it in the garbage after use. Instead of putting your plastic bottles “out of sight,out of mind,” consider the environment and reuse them multiple times.
  • Don’t have a water fountain nearby? Don’t like the temperature of tap water? Save a couple of bottles and rotate refrigerator time.

 3. Recycle!  

  • Know your number!
    • Each plastic bottle has a recycling code (numbered 1 through 7). This number tells you from what type of plastic the bottle is made and if it can be recycled. Plastics numbered 1 or 2 are accepted by almost all recycling centers.
  • Know city regulations for recycling at home.
    • Curbside recycling rules can vary depending on the local public works office.
    •  Stay up-to-date with your city’s list of acceptable materials: Edmond, Oklahoma City.

 4. Buy Recycled!

  • Purchase products that are made with recycled content, or made with post-consumer recycled content.
  • Purchasing recycled products supports the recycling industry and encourages manufacturers to continue using recycled materials during production.                 

Glass

Glass is one of the most sustainable materials available; it is 100% recyclable and recycling creates no by-products or excess waste. Recycling glass also saves energy and reduces the use of raw materials. Glass can always be recycled because it loses no quality or purity when reprocessed.

When glass is recycled, it first becomes “cullet”, or crushed glass. Cullet is made by melting down bottles and jars in a furnace which removes paper labels, glue, and other impurities. According to Earth911.com, making a new product from cullet (as opposed to virgin ingredients) uses 40% less energy. Recycling glass saves energy because cullet requires significantly less heat to melt than virgin ingredients which require temperatures around 2,600º Fahrenheit.

Recycled glass has many uses besides new glass containers, including: sports turf, floor tiles, fiberglass, construction materials (road aggregate), and insulation.


Compost

Why is composting important? Composting is good for soil, prevents runoff, and fosters plant life development. According to the Whatcom County Composting program, compost “contains a full spectrum of essential plant nutrients, provides good soil structure, and harbors diverse life in soil that supports healthy plant growth.”

Synthetic compost blends can yield quicker results; however, these fast-acting improvements are only temporary, as a new application will be needed after a few months. Organic materials that can all be used in your backyard compost pile include: yard waste (leaves, grass clippings, etc), fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, eggshells, nutshells, and small amounts of saw dust and wood ash.

Using organic compost instead of a synthetic blend can better address environmental issues, such as runoff. Runoff is a problem that occurs when water carries soil, fertilizers, and pesticides away from plants and gardens, polluting nearby bodies of water. Organic compost fights runoff by increasing the soil’s ability to retain water. The Whatcom County Composting website states that only a 5% increase organic material will quadruple the soils water holding capacity.

 Tips!

 1. Prevent food waste.

  • Plan meals and buy exactly what you need before shopping.
  • Compost leftover fruit and vegetable with yard waste.
  • Donate extra canned goods to a food bank.

 2. Balance the mixture of materials.

  • For best results, use both quickly and slowly decaying material.
  • Quickly: Dead leaves and dry hay.
  • Slowly: Food waste and fresh grass clippings.

 3. Avoid pest-attracting materials.

  • Meat, fish, fats, feces, dairy products, etc.

 4. Keep the pile in a warm, damp area.

 5. Aerate to increase oxygen in pile.

  • Increases decomposition rate of nitrogen-rich materials such as: food waste and fresh grass clippings.   

Sustainable Purchasing in Your Office

Purchasing Strategies to Prevent Waste and Save Money is a publication from the National Recycling Coalition. It offers several useful tips to create less waste when making purchases.

 Tips!

 1. Purchase non-toxic cleaners with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOC).

 2. Reuse and refill toner cartridges/ribbons.

 3. Buy in bulk.

 4. Buy products made of post-consumer recycled materials.

 5. Minimize costs and waste associated with renovation and replacement.

  • Choose durable materials and flexible interior features.        

Recycling Resources:

Oklahoma Recycling Association
Recycling Services by County (Oklahoma DEQ)
Use Less Stuff Campaign (Oklahoma DEQ)
Container Recycling Institute (CRI)
National Recycling Coalition (NRC)
Southwest Network for Zero Waste  
Freecycle.org
Throwplace.com
Habitat for Humanity Re-Store – Tulsa, OK
U.S. Composting Council
State Surplus Recycling Materials Program

Last Modified on 04/27/2010