RECYCLING BEGINS AT… WORK
District 7 has a green light to recycle more, conserve more and become even more energy efficient.
It IS easy being green, especially now that there are recycling bins on every floor in the District Office Building and in field offices.
The bins are located in copy rooms (white paper, toner cartridges and batteries) and pantries (bottles and cans) and were placed there by the new Recycling Coordinator, Ken Simon. “We’re hoping that by making recycling bins available and accessible, we can increase employee participation in this worthwhile and necessary program,” he said.
“Holding true to the District's tradition of leading the way, we are in the process of "greening" the Recycling Program. More environmental sensitive solutions must be implemented to conserve and protect our resources,” said Administration Deputy Jim Hammer. “The District's Recycling Program is expanding the type of materials that will be collected as well as informing employees on how they can contribute. One major step that will be taken is to evaluate the materials we purchase and how "green" alternatives can meet our business needs.”
In 2006, District 7 recycled 7.81 tons of cardboard, 27.14 tons of white paper and 3.06 tons of mixed paper. Recycling paper not only helps the environment but also the bottom line: the district receives up to $80 per ton for the paper. The money helps to off-set costs associated with the program, such as the new bins.
Obsolete office furniture, computer equipment, and copier machines are donated to recycling companies, school districts, and charitable organizations. “That continues to be a high priority for Caltrans,” Simon said.
Metal debris from freeways, highways, bridges, and on and off-ramps is sorted and deposited into metal commercial refuse bins for recycling. Some construction and demolition waste can be recycled, including asphalt concrete, Portland cement concrete, metal beam guardrail, and wood. This also generates revenue for the State.
Additionally, Caltrans’ fleet has become increasingly green; many trucks, sweepers, and other equipment use low-sulfur diesel fuel and a number of vehicles are hybrids. Even so, the fleet generates waste material such as motor oil, engine lubricants, anti-freeze, tires, truck parts, auto parts, and solvents, Simon added. All of this material is recycled through local companies.
Recycling is important but even better is not using paper in the first place. One of the ways the District conserves paper is by using online forms, manuals, bulletin boards, electronic media, and emails to reduce print flyers, handouts, and multiple copies of reports. Reusable inter-department delivery envelopes, and re-use of shipping boxes also reducies paper consumption.
One of Simon’s other hats is Hazardous Materials Coordinator (he is also District Records Recorder). Computers (monitors, CPU’s etc.), televisions, printers, VCR’s, cell phones, telephones, radios, and microwave ovens are considered hazardous waste as is materials from fleet vehicles and batteries of all types. The purpose of recently-installed battery recycle containers is to temporarily store batteries until disposal. The containers weigh 17 pounds each when full, so Simon advises notifying him to pick them up early, before they get full. “The year-end holidays are a good time to swap out your old batteries from the past year and install new ones,” he said.
A couple of recycling updates: The thick rubber mats covering the floor of the Wellness Center are made from recycled automobile and truck tire rubber and provide a good noise insulator. Another item made from recycled materials is the temporary safety barriers used to block lanes for construction activities. These are most often made from milk carton jugs and used beverage containers. These are just a couple of the countless uses for recycled materials.
“I believe most people want to recycle,” Simon said. “It’s just a matter of making them aware of how and where to do it.”
More information on the District's recycling program can be found at http://t7www2/new_building/index.php?page=recycling_program