Pittsburgh’s Green Building Alliance Makes Recycling Easier than Throwing Away
Workplace Type: Non-profit organization
Key Learning: Using a recycling bin that is larger than the trash bin has increased recycling and decreased waste. Also, “seeding the bin” – or placing examples of the material that should go in bins – has decreased contamination (recyclables in the compost bins and vice versa).
Their Action: Driven by an organizational commitment to work toward zero waste, the Green Building Alliance, a chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), conducted an office waste audit that resulted in three key changes to their recycling and waste reduction program. These combined efforts enabled GBA to reduce its office cleaning service to once per week.
First, they removed individual waste receptacles from employees’ desks and went from more than 20 trash bins to only three in the office. Currently, employees have personal desk-side recycling bins, but have to bring their trash to a central location. The second post-waste audit change was a purchasing decision to buy coffee in 10-pound increments packaged in reusable bags and store in reusable canisters. Finally, GBA implemented a composting program. While their 12-person office did not yield enough to meet the local composting company’s quota, they overcame the challenge by sending food scraps home with employees who volunteered to add it to their own compost piles.
Words of Advice: “One thing we’ve done is provide recycling bins that are larger than our garbage bin. This is one way to remind employees that most of their waste should go into the recycling and composting bins. By doing this in our office and at all our events, we end up with more recycling and compost, and much less trash going to the landfill.”
- Leslie Montgomery, Communications Director at Green Building Alliance in Pittsburgh