Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Allegheny County Office Building Triples Waste Diversion Rate In One Year

Working in partnership with the PA Resources Council, Allegheny County was able to triple its waste diversion at the Allegheny County Office Building during a one-year period.
The pilot program that diverted 60 percent of the building’s waste from local landfills has been expanded to additional buildings in the county’s footprint and is expected to see continued benefits.
“While the county has had a recycling program for a while, it was not easily understood and employees were not educated about what could be recycled,” said Director Doug Nolfi, director of the Department of Facilities Management. “Through the partnership with PRC, we have been able to better understand what we’ve been doing wrong and were able to incorporate many recommendations into our pilot program launched in January 2015.”
Following an initial assessment to measure the quantity and type of refuse in the building’s waste streams, PRC’s Zero Waste Pennsylvania crew worked with the county’s Sustainability Office in the Facilities Management Department to upgrade the building’s recycling program by educating 400 employees and maintenance staff members, adding centralized collection stations and removing all desk-side bins in the 235,000-square-foot building located in downtown Pittsburgh.
"PRC strives to keep valuable materials out of landfills and is proud to work with Allegheny County staff,” said Teresa Bradley, PRC’s Zero Waste Services Coordinator.  “After baseline data is determined and recommendations prescribed, follow-up audits are strongly encouraged throughout the year to track program success and determine how the upgraded recycling program is operating.”
“When the program was launched, the COB’s recycling rate was at about 20 percent, but we’re now diverting 60 percent of the building’s waste and we plan to see that percentage continue to increase,” said Kathleen Hrabovsky, Sustainability Manager.  “PRC staff validates the type and quantity of recycling and landfill waste by sorting the waste into categories, weighing the various categories and assessing the quantity in order to measure our overall diversion rate.  With their assistance and guidance, we can measure and track our success."  
In June 2015, Allegheny County expanded the pilot program to include 40 additional employees working at the nearby Health Department Administration Building, where 67 percent of waste was diverted from landfill to recycling during the first six months of the campaign.  
In recognition of the overall effort, Allegheny County received the Top Waste Reducer Award of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s 2015 Green Workplace Challenge, and Hrabovsky says the county plans to expand the program to additional facilities in 2016.
“PRC is committed to finding practical solutions for clients ranging from small businesses to regional governments to achieve the highest level of waste diversion and waste avoidance,” said PRC Western Regional Director Justin Stockdale.  “The tremendous success experienced at the County Office Building is possible to replicate elsewhere, and PRC is eager to work with organizations, businesses and government to develop strategies to reduce and divert waste throughout the region.”
Zero Waste strategies save financial resources as well as protect and preserve the natural resources of Pennsylvania.
“While the city requires recycling by all entities including Allegheny County operations, it’s particularly encouraging to see a facility such as this one invest additional effort and resources to improve its recycling program and achieve success far beyond what is required,” said Kyle Winkler, Recycling Supervisor of the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works.  “Successful recycling isn’t hard, but it does require a plan, communication, best practices, measurement of outcomes, repetition and ongoing commitment.”
More information is available on PRC’s Zero Waste Pennsylvania webpage.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Resources Council website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates, follow PRC on Twitter or Like them on Facebook.  Click Here for PRC’s Events Calendar.

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