American Recycles Day

The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Goes Green Every Day

PPPL Dress

Dana Eckstein shows off her dress made of recyclable CDs for an America Recycles Day fashion show.

By Rachel Chaput

 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is focused on sustainability every day with everything from a composting program in the cafeteria to awarding prizes for employees caught “green handed” to celebrate America Recycles Day.

PPPL is a national laboratory that is funded by the Department of Energy and managed by Princeton University. The campus sits on an 88-acre parcel with woods and wetlands. There, since the 1950s, researchers have been experimenting with ways to produce clean, renewable, and abundant electric energy from nuclear FUSION. Yes that’s right, fusion, not fission. It’s the same energy that powers the sun and the stars. PPPL’s main experiment, the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) is going to reopen this year after completing a $94 million upgrade.

PPPL Compostable

Compostable service ware used at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

There is an open collaborative relationship with researchers in other countries to get this done, and the beneficial payoff to the world if it could be achieved would be huge. We wish them the best of luck!

PPPL shows its commitment to the environment in other ways as well. They are a long time, committed partner within EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge and WasteWise programs, and also participate in the Federal Green Challenge. These are sustainability partnership programs run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which strive to conserve natural resources and promote sustainability. PPPL has been recognized by EPA for good performance in these programs repeatedly, notably with the 2012 EPA WasteWise Program’s Federal Partner of the Year award.

Margaret Kevin-King and Leanna Meyer, PPPL employees who manage the sustainability efforts at PPPL, try to cover all the bases. While PPPL participates in all of the routine recycling of cardboard, paper, plastic and metal, they also do a lot of extras. They compost their food waste and recycle cooking oil to produce biodiesel. They purchase compostable service ware. The Lab also collects razor blades (a safety issue) and universal waste, including lithium batteries.

These ladies bring real commitment to their jobs. Ms. Kevin-King says that on Earth Day, her family and friends text her holiday greetings, because they know it’s the most important holiday of the year to her! Ms. Meyer has made a careful project out of color-coding the recycling bins and trash disposal areas within the lab facility.

They try to bring a creative flair to many of the sustainability efforts at the PPPL. For example, they and members of PPPL’s Green Team offered prizes this year for America Recycles Day to employees who were caught ‘green-handed’ with a reusable cup or reusable lunch bag. They also collect electronics for America Recycles Day and Earth Day. This year, PPPL is recycling everything from office supplies to goggles and hardhats. Check out the pictures of the fashion show they held in years past to celebrate American Recycles Day! These outfits were put together using materials that would otherwise be discarded. It’s good to make work fun!

PPPL Sign

An example of PPPL’s advanced recycling guidelines. How does your office measure up?

 

 

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Recycle, Wrap It

By Jeri Weiss

Here’s a quick quiz: 1. What happens to the packaged snacks second graders decide not to eat? 2. What do hotels do with the half rolls of toilet-paper and half bottles of shampoo you leave behind? 3. Where does uneaten food, including food still in wrappers, end up after a conference ends.

You guessed it: these items end up in the trash.

If you’re anything like me, this kind of waste makes you want to eat food when you’re already full and tote slimy shampoo bottles across the country when you leave a hotel. But a group called Rock and Wrap It Up! has come up with a better solution. And recently this group, along with the Boston Bruins and National Hockey League was recognized by EPA at the Boston Garden.

During the 2010-11 season, the Boston Bruins donated 3,796 meals to the Boston Rescue Mission, keeping about 2.5 tons of food from being thrown out)

In honor of America Recycles Day Nov. 15, EPA teamed up with the Bruins, the New Jersey Devils and the NHL to recognize the program in which the Bruins donate prepared but unused, safe edible food to the Boston Rescue Mission and help to feed needy people while also accomplishing an important environmental service. NHL teams across the country recycle more than 105 tons of food, giving out 163,000 meals in North America.
Food donation is so simple, it’s hard to imagine what took us so long. It has little or no program start-up cost, and provides needed food to hungry people.

Rock and Wrap it Up began at the Jones Beach Theater in New York, when the manager agreed to give away rather than throw away food left over by a band. The organization quickly grew to include theaters across the country, then schools, hotels and sports venues.

Since 1991, Rock and Wrap it Up has given more than 250 million pounds of food. Among the the hotel groups participating are the Langham and Lenox hotels in Boston.

Rock and Wrap It Up’s newest project is Hungerpedia.com, an online database of charitable organizations. Any anti-poverty organization that wants to be on the list can send information in through a straightforward online application and individuals can also get involved through the website.

The cliché is never more true than when it comes to food waste– your trash is truly someone else’s treasure.

Rock It and Wrap It Up (http://www.rockandwrapitup.org/)

About the author: Jeri Weiss works in EPA’s New England regional office, in Boston. She is one of the region’s experts on recycling and waste management issues.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

America Recycles!

By Suzanne Rudzinski

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point, recycling became more mainstream in America. Here in Washington, DC you’ll find separate bins for your recycling next to waste bins. Major manufacturers and other leading manufacturers are recycling tons of materials annually because it saves them money. Glass manufacturers rely on a steady supply of recycled crushed glass in their production processes, since it costs less than raw materials and melts at a lower temperature, which saves energy and prolongs furnace life. 90 percent of recycled glass is used to make new containers; it can also be used in kitchen tiles, counter tops, and wall insulation. So recycling isn’t just fashionable for treehuggers or hippies; it’s a practical, business-savvy activity that every American and American business can do.

American recycling has come a long way. It used to be something we taught our kids. When my kids were in preschool, I showed their classes how carpet can be made from recycled bottles, or how aluminum cans are crushed into recyclable blocks. Today, kids are teaching us to think about recycling more. You may overhear kids quizzically ask their parents, “Why isn’t there recycling here? Where do I put this bottle?” That little statement is representative of the millennial generation’s outlook; young people expect recycling options. They’re choosing to build a better tomorrow by recycling the things we use today.

Rather than throwing away old electronics, we can recycle them. Through 3rd-party certified recyclers, we can help create safe domestic recycling jobs while keeping precious metals and materials in our own country. Innovative processes and business models await discovery in America’s effort to grow our economy and become less dependent on costly imports. Think about it. For every million cell phones we recycle, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered. For every ounce of gold we recycle, it’s one less ounce of gold we have to import or mine domestically.

So, on this America Recycles Day, consider what you can do to recycle more. It can be as easy asking your local trash company for curbside recycling, moving your old electronics from a box to a local recycler, or gathering those old flip phones you have lying around and donating them to charities. Whatever steps you’ll take, you’ll be taking steps that help make America a cleaner, healthier, more economically competitive country.

For more information, check out tips on what you can do to recycle and EPA’s educational resources. EPA supports Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling materials and considers true sustainability as next-generation pathway beyond recycling.

About the author: Suzanne Rudzinski is the Director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. The Office is responsible for managing EPA’s programs governing hazardous and solid wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. She is the proud mother of three environmentally-conscious sons.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.