CN Environmental Programs aims to increase workplace recycling

BY STAFF REPORTS
09/10/2019 12:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Recycling bins sit in the Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs office to collect paper, plastic, aluminum, glass and cardboard for recycling. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Plastic collected for recycling sits in a recycling bin in the Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs office. The CNEP recently started a recycling program for its 25-person staff, which is making a difference in reducing municipal waste. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as much as 45 percent of the 250 million tons of municipal waste generated in 2010 was from businesses, government offices, retail establishments, schools and hospitals.

To this end, Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs has committed to reducing waste and making recycling a priority at work sites. Through a grant from the U.S. EPA Region 6, staff members initiated an office-recycling program for the 25-person CNEP staff.

“Having the recycling program at the office has led to employees making more sustainable choices when using office supplies so that less waste is generated and the waste we do have is recyclable,” Shaun West, CNEP environmental manager and recycling coordinator, said.

Staff members attended a meeting and presentation on how, what, when and where recycling would take place at the office. Each person was given a recycling container for his or her desk area that he or she could use to collect recyclables and then transfer the materials to larger bins in the office storage area. Once a week, CN Facilities employees collected the paper and cardboard while glass, aluminum and plastics were taken to the city’s recycling facility.

Audits of the waste stream were conducted before and after the program was in place for six months. Results of the audit showed that staff was indeed recycling and only a few non-recyclable items such as Styrofoam and paper towels were going into the waste stream.

For only one CN office some of the material amounts collected were impressive, West said. Materials collected (in pounds) for fiscal year 2019 were glass, 94; plastic, 220; aluminum, 115; paper, 1,440; and cardboard, 583.

“Increasing recycling rates translates into measurable benefits, including waste reduction, energy savings, natural resource conservation and job creation,” West said. “Also, starting an office recycling program can lead to other offices adopting the program and to employees starting their own program at home.”

For information on starting a recycling program in your office or for any questions, email Shaun West at swest@cherokee.org or call 918-453-5363.

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