VACostCutting

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Solid waste ORT...

Solid Waste & Recycling Operational Review Update

Solid waste management and recycling are important responsibilities for all state agencies, large and small. Solid waste and recycling management have both a fiscal and environmental impact on the Commonwealth. These issues also hold opportunities for the state to lead by example with proper waste management techniques.

The solid waste and recycling team was established to look at existing practices within state government and recommend ways the state can be more efficient and cost effective in the realm of waste management. The team is developing a set of key recommendations that will aim at reducing the amount of waste generated as well as the costs associated with waste management. Delegate John Cosgrove and Senator Creigh Deeds serve as the team’s legislative leaders. The Assistant Secretary of Natural Resources is coordinating the team’s work. Team members include representatives from the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of General Services.

In order to make the larger issue of Solid Waste & Recycling more manageable, the team began working within seven key sub-topics:

Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling
Waste Reduction
Composting
Education/Employee Training
Cost/Contracts/Procurement
Traditional Recycling
Electronics Recycling

By dividing the issue up into these sub-topics, the group was able to put forth three initial recommendations.

1. Encourage state agencies to pursue participation in the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program.

The Virginia Environmental Excellence Program (VEEP) recognizes facilities that have demonstrated a commitment to enhanced environmental performance. The Program is open to the private sector as well as state agencies. At the end of 2006 there were 345 facilities in the program. Approximately 85 individual state facilities participate in the program. In some instances each physical location is counted as a separate facility due to the way compliance requirements are set up.

Cost savings and environmental benefits of the VEEP are demonstrated. In 2006, participating facilities (public and private) achieved the following results:
$2.5 million in cost savings;
24,000 tons non-hazardous materials eliminated or recycled;
7,450 pounds hazardous waste eliminated or recycled;
64,000 tons of waste material sold as a raw material.


2. Implement building specific or agency specific employee training regarding solid waste/recycling. Include education on the advantages of construction and demolition waste and electronics recycling.

The programs would include, at a minimum: basic solid waste recycling programs for paper, bottles and cans; a review of current procurement practices for waste reduction and green purchasing opportunities; and, employee training regarding solid waste/recycling and reduction.

Recycling of construction and demolition waste will divert significant volume of waste from landfills and reduce costs of projects. Education and information on these advantages and links to appropriate websites for education can be sent out to the Agency facility administrators. The Green Building/Sustainable Design movement that is gaining momentum is a proponent of construction and demolition waste recycling.


3. Encourage composting at facilities/agencies with the appropriate types of waste stream.

The technology of in-vessel composting has reached a point where it is functional and more easily accessible. One state agency has a program that has been in use for several years and has significantly reduced the volume of waste going into landfills. Two of this agency’s facilities worked together and composted 273,198 pounds of food waste for the year 2006.

Feedback

The Solid Waste & Recycling Operational Review Team is drafting its full set of recommendations from this review. We welcome additional advice and input from readers of the VACostCutting blog. Please share your thoughts with the team through this blog. In addition, you can send your ideas to me at missy.neff@governor.virginia.gov with the subject line “Communications Review from VACostCutting blog”.

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