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Success Stories - State Government

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The success stories provided on this website are for information purposes only and do not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by EPA or the United States Government of any specific commercial products, processes, or services mentioned therein.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) – NJ

NJDEP is spreading the WasteWise message through the New Jersey WasteWise Business Network, a public-private partnership devoted to helping the state’s businesses and organizations reduce waste, recycle, and procure more recycled products. The New Jersey WasteWise Bulletin, a newsletter published several times per year, highlights key WasteWise messages, including the economic benefits of recycling, sustainability, and the climate-waste link. NJDEP also sponsored networking meetings, developed a recycled products directory CD that was distributed to more than 8,000 businesses and organizations, and provided targeted outreach to new businesses. See <www.recyclenj.org> for sources of recycled products in New Jersey.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – Harrisburg, PA

In its second year as a WasteWise Partner, The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection visited more than 150 businesses in Pennsylvania through its “buy- recycled” outreach initiative. In each face-to-face visit, Pennsylvania DEP representatives provide the companies with a buy-recycled guide, including information about the WasteWise program. The Waste Management Program of the state agency composted 36 pounds of food in an on-site vermi-composting bin. The state agency also notifies its 1,200 employees of waste prevention and recycling programs through e-mail to conserve paper and promote employee participation.

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) – SC

The “Recycle Guys” encourage everyone to recycle— according to the South Carolina DHEC, which developed the “Recycle Guys” in 1992, to promote recycling in South Carolina and nationwide. In 2004, DHEC recycled more than 541,100 pounds of recyclables—an increase of more than 80 percent per employee since 2001.

As a WasteWise Endorser, DHEC recruits other organizations to join WasteWise, offers educational workshops, and provides technical assistance through its Business Recycling Assistance Program (B-RAP), a partnership created to promote waste reduction, recycling, recycling market development, and buying recycled to businesses and industry statewide. In 2003, South Carolina became the first state to join the WasteWise States Campaign. DHEC also played an instrumental role in developing the South Carolina Resource Conservation Challenge to encourage taxpayer-supported organizations to conserve natural resources, protect the environment, and save money. Winner of seven awards since joining WasteWise in 2000, DHEC excels as both a Partner and an Endorser.

A dual award recipient, the South Carolina DHEC works to educate and involve its 5,309 employees in waste reduction, and carries the message beyond its offices to other organizations across the state. DHEC’s Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling promotes its efforts in various publications, including DHEC’s electronic employee newsletter. Additionally, it posts the department’s WasteWise goals and waste prevention policies on the Intranet and in copy rooms throughout its offices. One unique waste prevention activity involved encouraging employees to bring reusable utensils to its 2003 holiday luncheon and rewarding those who did with the gift of a reusable travel mug. In addition, DHEC employees created a throw rug from old T-shirts they brought into the office.

The winner of the Endorser of the Year award, DHEC spreads the waste reduction message beyond its walls through its Business Recycling Assistance Program (B-RAP), a technical assistance partnership that promotes waste prevention, recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing, and recycling market development to South Carolina organizations. As organizations contact B-RAP for technical assistance, DHEC encourages them to consider becoming WasteWise Partners, providing them with WasteWise information packets, explaining the program, and assisting them with the application process. In fact, DHEC collaborates closely with EPA through the WasteWise States Campaign to create synergies between federal and state waste reduction outreach. Additionally, DHEC supported the creation of the South Carolina Resource Conservation Challenge (SCRCC)—modeled after EPA’s Resource Conservation Challenge—to help organizations save money by reducing waste and energy. To launch the initiative, DHEC and other SCRCC sponsors held a kickoff workshop on energy and waste reduction strategies attended by 130 people.

It is exciting to encounter an institution as committed to practicing what it preaches as the South Carolina DHEC. As a WasteWise Partner and Endorser, the department implements many waste reduction activities internally as a backdrop to a cadre of outreach activities, workshops, and presentations. In 2002, DHEC incorporated WasteWise into its Business Recycling Assistance Program, hosted a WasteWise satellite forum, recycled 331 tons of materials, and purchased 26 percent of total supplies and materials with recycled content.

The sign of a well-integrated organization, South Carolina DHEC truly leads by example. As both a WasteWise Partner and Endorser, SC DHEC maintains an extensive internal waste reduction program while promoting WasteWise to organizations across South Carolina. SC DHEC staff regularly conduct on-site visits and use the opportunity to encourage organizations to consider joining WasteWise. Additionally, the agency mailed WasteWise information to recycling coordinators in cities, counties, and universities across the state, and included an article in its quarterly magazine highlighting its collaboration with WasteWise. To reach an even larger audience, the agency developed a WasteWise display that it brings to trade shows and a WasteWise page on its Web site that includes the WasteWise logo and information on the benefits of joining WasteWise, the services offered by the program, and the necessary steps to begin implementing the program.

While the South Carolina DHEC reduced its own waste and received recognition for these efforts as a state government Program Champion, it also focused on helping others reduce waste. DHEC incorporated WasteWise into South Carolina’s newly-formed technical assistance partnership, the Business Recycling Assistance Program, and linked its Web site to the WasteWise site. When talking with local businesses, DHEC often suggests the benefits of becoming a WasteWise Partner. The department celebrated America Recycles Day and Earth Day and promoted the ideas of reducing waste and buying recycled at various conferences and training sessions throughout the past year, as well as within its own offices at employee meetings. Various publications distributed throughout South Carolina, such as the DHEC newsletter, Options newsletter, and the South Carolina Recycles magazine, help DHEC inspire further waste reduction. DHEC continued excellence with the award-winning “Recycle Guys” public awareness campaign and “Action for a Cleaner Tomorrow,” an interdisciplinary curriculum supplement for elementary and high school students.

The South Carolina DHEC has reduced waste so effectively it is paying the same tipping fees today that it did in 1993! This escape from inflation results from the state’s efforts to continuously increase levels of both waste prevention and recycling collection. DHEC avoids a great deal of waste through reductions in paper use. The organization stresses the importance of double-sided printing within the office and has switched to e-mail for routine communication. DHEC no longer prints important information, such as phone numbers and directories, instead including it on the agency’s Intranet.

DHEC also achieved success in its recycling and green purchasing efforts. The department recycled 150 tons of colored paper in 2001 and 34 tons of other paper products, along with large quantities of plastic, aluminum, glass, wood, and computers. DHEC purchased $800,000 worth of products made from recycled material in 2001. It also requested that its vendors use less packaging for office supplies and established a buy-recycled policy that gives a 7.5 percent price preference to recycled-content materials.

State of Ohio

From eliminating a multi-part form to reclaiming old asphalt, Ohio state employees implemented several waste reduction initiatives in 2000. The effort boosted state agency recycling tonnage by almost 5 percent—to 2,270 tons— and several waste prevention projects achieved demonstrable savings in staff time and taxpayer money in the bargain. The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation implemented a paperless medical claims imaging system, saving $483,000 in expenses, nearly 22 tons pounds of office paper and file folders and 2,500 pounds in toner cartridges. By receiving long-distance records on CD-ROM, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services is conserving 1,440 pounds of paper a year. The Office of Management and Budget eliminated the use of one form, saving 573 pounds of paper annually. The Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 2 reused 50 tons of old asphalt in new road construction in 2000. The recycled-content asphalt cost just $2.25 a ton, far less than the $28 a ton paid for “virgin” asphalt. The Taxation Department started saving and distributing interoffice mail envelopes for reuse, saving 573 pounds of paper a year. Recycled-content purchases reported by all Ohio state agencies increased 3 percent in 2000, totaling more than $2.1 million.

When the State of Ohio purchases products, it considers more than just the immediate impact of the product on the environment. The state considers the entire life cycle—from creation to decomposition—of each product purchased. This consideration of each item helped the state purchase more than $2 million worth of products with recycled content in 2001. Through a contract developed with DuPont Flooring this past year, the State Purchasing Division and Ohio State University bought recycled-content carpeting and a product life-extension service for 623 tons of carpeting.

The State of Ohio’s environmental commitment is also displayed through its high levels of recycling. In 2001, the state collected more than 1,472 tons of paper products for recycling! In addition to mounds of plastics, metals, and glass, Ohio recycled more than 448 tons of computers. The state awarded the Ohio Penal Industries a $100,000 grant to set up a computer recycling center in which inmates refurbish computers that are donated to schools. Equipment that is not usable is disassembled for recycling. The state is currently helping communities deal with their concerns about recycling electronics by adding this issue to the 2001 State Solid Waste Management Plan and by offering electronics collection grants.

Ohio also realizes that documenting waste reduction success spurs additional activity. Ohio’s Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention compiles waste reduction statistics for the state and is constantly encouraging other state divisions to report their reductions. In 2001, the Office of Quality allied with the Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention to promote documentation of waste prevention throughout the state’s departments. To further inspire waste reduction, Ohio produced its first report detailing the waste prevention, recycling, and recycled-content procurement efforts of each reporting agency location. This report was distributed to the governor, legislators, agency directors, and fiscal officers to inform and inspire.

The State of Ohio, with 56,000 employees participating statewide, reduced paper usage by 10 tons and saved $47,700 through numerous paper prevention activities such as database development and form consolidation. Other accomplishments, spearheaded by recycling coordinators in Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, and Toledo, included refurbishing 18 tons of toner cartridges and 94.5 tons of computers

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Office of Environmental Assistance (OEA) State Employee Recycling Program (SERP)

A winner of the WasteWise Partner of the Year Award the past four years, the TDEC/OEA SERP continues to expand its waste prevention and recycling program, with nearly 50,000 employees now participating. In 2005, SERP added eight locations to the more than 50 buildings already taking part in the program. SERP understands that preventing waste before it is generated is essential to a waste reduction program, so it uses its state employees’ Web site to provide tips on waste prevention practices. In 2005, SERP’s waste reduction program saved nearly $40,000 in avoided disposal costs and received more than $25,000 in recycling revenue. Collecting more than 2 tons of waste, SERP’s Green Cubicle program sets aside office space for the collection of non-traditional items, such as clothing, coat hangers, eyeglasses, bottle ring holders, and greeting cards for reuse, donation, and recycling.

Through the State Employee Recycling Program (SERP), the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation educates the more than 24,000 state employees about waste reduction and recycling. SERP is active at 132 facilities in eight cities across the state, collecting about 10 materials for recycling at each site. The state’s Green for Good Program collects some more unusual items for recycling or reuse, including eyeglasses, hangers, cell phones, and greeting cards.

Tennessee Department of Correction – Nashville, TN

The Tennessee Department of Correction employs 5,776 people and oversees thousands of inmates throughout 21 centers, prisons, and other buildings. Many of the inmates participated in the department’s waste prevention activities and helped conserve 65 tons of computers by refurbishing and repairing 2,332 PC units from three computer repair and reuse centers across the correction system. The computers were placed into public schools. The department also conserved more than 13 tons of textiles by repairing inmate clothing—8,422 pairs of blue jeans, 7,882 shirts, 1,077 jackets, and 38 sweatshirts. This activity saved more than $90,573 in new clothing purchases. Activities also included composting 1,600 tons of organic materials on site and using the compost on the department’s building grounds, saving $460,433.

The inmates helped eliminate 13 tons of computer waste by refurbishing and repairing 475 PC units at three computer repair centers located in the prisons. The department also conserved nearly 28 tons of textiles by repairing inmate clothing, saving more than $100,000 in avoided new clothing purchases. Activities also included composting 837 tons of organic materials and using the compost on the grounds of the department’s buildings.

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