Environmental Protection Agency

Kick the Can, USA!

As summer interns in the Region 9 office of the Environmental Protection Agency, it has been exciting to see that EPA practices what it preaches! One of the best sustainability initiatives in the San Francisco office is to replace personal trash bins with larger bins in communal areas of each floor. This simple act saves money, reduces landfill waste, and gently encourages recycling.

 

In the EPA’s San Francisco office, this initiative saves an estimated $1,000 per year. By adopting this practice, the federal government could save $1.38 million per year. Rather than putting new plastic trash liners at desks every day, the cleaning staff would only need to change a small number of trash liners. In environmental terms, this is 110,000 pounds of plastic that is directly diverted from landfills each year.

 

Reducing the number of trash bins will also indirectly reduce landfill waste by encouraging recycling. This practice compels employees to think twice about chucking their papers or soda cans into the trash. Because the bin will no longer be the most convenient place to dispose of waste, federal employees will be “nudged” toward recycling. Some studies have estimated that 90% of office waste is paper, and most that is recyclable. This means up to 1 million pounds of paper waste per year could be diverted from landfills.

 

We believe this proposal is a win for the government's pocket book and a win for the earth!

 

Submitted by EPA Region 9 2011 Interns

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Idea No. 5288