Ninth Annual Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling
Each spring, businesses in King County outside of the City of Seattle are invited to apply for recognition as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. This year, King County’s Solid Waste Division has named 112 local businesses to its ninth annual list of Best Workplaces, the highest number listed since the program began in 2007!
The 2015 list spans a wide array of businesses in King County – from education to transportation. Innovative recycling and waste reduction strategies run the gamut, from the customized raingear designed by Frito-Lay to protect their cardboard boxes for reuse, to the food waste focus of the Culinary Department’s curriculum at Renton Technical College, to Superior Seconds Gear Exchange’s commitment to refurbishing used sporting goods.
Each of the 2015 Best Workplace businesses listed has shown exceptional commitment to recycling and reducing the amount of waste their company sends to the landfill. Their actions help reduce the impacts of climate change and feed recycled materials back into the economy.
Special recognition goes to Honor Roll businesses that have made the list for five or more years and are identified by their logo and an Honor Roll graphic image along with their profiles below.
King County is also honoring one business from the list with the “Re-Innovator Award,” recognizing exceptional innovative waste reduction programs. This year’s recipient is Woodinville’s-based Division 9 Flooring. They are an industry leader for their unique carpet and carpet pad recycling program. Since 2008, they have recycled and diverted more than 900,000 pounds of carpet and pad from the landfill. Division 9 Flooring has also been an engaged stakeholder in the Northwest Carpet Recycling Project, and a sponsor, presenter and exhibitor at one of the Washington State Recycling Association’s most successful Washington Recycles Every Day events—In the Loop: the NW Carpet Recycling Value Chain. Special congratulations to Division 9 Flooring!
Be inspired, learn something new and glean ideas for your own business by viewing the 2015 Best Workplace profiles below. Don’t miss advice that many businesses have included in their profiles. Congratulations to each 2015 Best Workplace!
This year’s Best Workplace profiles are organized by business categories. Click the following to jump to a category:
Note: all links are external
Bastyr University returns for its sixth year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling and its second year on the Honor Roll. The university has an active commitment to campus sustainability with 11 LEED Platinum certified student halls and a rigorous composting and recycling program. Mixed paper goods, compost, batteries, ballasts, lamps, fluorescent tubes, Styrofoam, electronics and metal are all recycled separately. Campus trash levels have stayed consistent even as the school has grown and added more students and staff. Centralizing all office area trash and recycling collection per floor has helped save can liners and hours of custodial services, while also increasing awareness of recycling programs and compliance. The school has also replaced over 200 incandescent lamps with LEDs, and plans to switch over entirely in the next year.
Bellevue School District returns for its fifth year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling and its first year on the Honor Roll. To encourage green practices, Bellevue School District employs an aggressive recycling and waste reduction program in which all schools within the district are required to participate. Every school has designated “Green Genius” teams to help meet goals on waste reduction, recycling, energy conservation and water conservation. The Bellevue School District partners with the City of Bellevue to conduct zero waste contests between schools, which are all recycling at least 50 percent of their total waste. Ten schools in the district use reusable lunch trays, up from only one last year. They are also a winner of the 2015 Washington State Recycling Association’s Best Recycler Award.
Next steps: “Our next frontier is food waste reduction. We estimate that last year we were able to divert 2,400 cubic yards of food waste from the landfill.”
Special recognition goes to Nancy Larson and Cindy King, who lead the Bellevue School District’s waste prevention and recycling efforts.
Issaquah School District (ISD) continues to reduce, reuse and recycle, joining the Best Workplaces list for its seventh consecutive year and is on the Honor Roll for the third time. (ISD) is made up of 24 schools and administrative and support facilities that house about 2,000 staff and over 18,000 students. Through participation with King County’s Green Schools Program, the students and staff have increased the recycling rate from less than 10 percent to 49 percent annually. All lunchrooms have waste collection stations with signs near bins, and most elementary schools have student Green Teams that monitor recycling in the cafeterias and train their peers using classroom presentations. The district successfully implemented the first district-wide “Waste Free Wednesday” on Earth Day 2015. All schools attempted to produce as little garbage as possible from lunchrooms by planning menus free of extra packaging, encouraging students to bring reusable containers, and watching the bins to ensure no recyclable item was discarded.
Advice to others: “Creating and maintaining a recycling and waste reduction program takes involvement from everyone within an organization. These programs become successful because of the support from top management and buy-in by everyone within the organization. It is critical that custodial teams are involved in all aspects of the development of a recycling program, and that accurate and easy- to- read signs are placed on or above recycling and waste containers to make sorting materials easy for users. Finally, having a recycling and waste reduction manager helps create an enduring culture for recycling.”
Lake Washington School District (LWSD) continues to implement and expand its recycling and waste reduction programs, returning for its seventh time as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. Nearly 75 percent of schools in the district collect organic food waste for composting, durable trays and flatware, and all schools have plastic foam recycling. LWSD is a participant in the King County Green Schools program, and two schools reached new levels in spring of 2015. Carl Sandburg Elementary was recognized for achieving Level Four Green School, and Peter Kirk Elementary joined the program and was recognized as a Level One Green School. The district is committed to proactively right-sizing service, including smaller garbage containers and less frequent pickups. The district also pauses waste removal services during school breaks, which saves over $26,000 annually.
Lea Hill Elementary School is a first time addition to the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list. With the help of the King County Green Schools program, students have learned to recycle paper, save water while washing their hands, compost food scraps and use compost to grow and harvest vegetables and fruits. Even the pre-school students compost! Thanks to the leadership of Principal Edward Herda, Lea Hill Elementary School has been awarded the King County Earth Hero at School Award for 2015.
Advice to others: “Encourage students in an environmental stewardship project that reduces waste and creates environmental awareness.”
Special recognition: Principal Edward Herda, an advocate for the environment and education, helped the school receive the King County Earth Hero at School Award in 2015.
Joining the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list this year is Renton Technical College. The school offers training, re-training and career paths for those who seek marketable job skills or to upgrade current skill sets. Support for recycling on campus is broad-based, from students to faculty and staff, and many individual departments seek out ways to recycle materials unique to their programs. The Culinary Arts program leads the way by fostering awareness of sustainability issues impacting the culinary industry, including energy and water conservation, purchasing local products, recycling plastic, cardboard and aluminum, and eliminating kitchen waste. Used batteries can be recycled on campus, and there is a program to reuse old binders and other office supplies.
Returning as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling for the fourth year in a row is Sammamish Montessori School, a preschool and elementary school based on the philosophy that children have an inborn drive to become independent. As a school, they believe it is important to educate children and their families about recycling and find that children are typically the most mindful once they understand the importance of minimizing waste, recycling, and repurposing. The school uses recycled materials such as boxes and packing materials for arts and crafts at the “creation station.” Students make sure all food scraps from student lunches are placed in the compost bin. The school repurposes furnishings, purchases technology that will last longer and uses recyclable materials such as boxes and packing materials as crafts materials. Sammamish Montessori has also taken steps to reduce energy use and reduce their waste by installing automated lighting, encouraging students to bring reusable lunch containers, and setting paper towel dispensers to dispense the minimum amount of paper.
Amec Foster Wheeler Environment and Infrastructure, Inc is an international environmental, engineering, and project management consulting firm located in Bothell that joins the Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling Honor Roll for the second year. Since implementing a sustainability program in 2003, Amec’s Bothell office has made efforts to reduce waste in nearly every aspect of their business, including composting and recycling programs, annual carbon footprint tracking, setting printers to double-sided printing, eliminating bottled water and trading disposable plates and utensils for dishes and silverware. The company has converted to paperless billing and regularly uses video conferencing technology to reduce the production of printed meeting materials. They post a chart of utility bills over the last six years to show staff the results of their waste reduction efforts.
Advice to others: “Waste reduction and recycling is an integral part of operating a sustainable business. A successful sustainability program requires leadership and support from upper management, allocated resources, and the goals clearly communicated to office employees, clients, and the community. You can further encourage staff participation by designating task leads, which helps to motivate staff and instill a sense of personal responsibility.”
The Albertsons/Safeway Bellevue Beverage Plant returns for its fifth year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling, earning a spot on the Honor Roll. The site is constantly seeking out new recycling opportunities. They recently went through their office supplies and donated any obsolete items to charity or recycling companies. This year, they also implemented new procedures to avoid using supplies unnecessarily.
Advice to others: “Try to get everyone involved in your recycling program to make it as successful as possible.”
CHS Engineers, LLC continues to strive to reduce the amount of waste it produces, and makes the Honor Roll for the first time in its fifth time as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. This medium-sized engineering consulting firm based in Bellevue avoids printing documents whenever possible in order to reduce paper waste. Their paper-intensive construction shop drawing submittal process has migrated from a multi-copy paper system to an all-electronic document system. By accepting electronic submittal of large plans or documents, they reduce the demand for resources for their client and associate networks. The company also recycles electronic items through 3R Technology, a local e-waste recycler.
Dynacraft, a PACCAR Company returns this year to the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for the fifth time and earns a place on the Honor Roll. Dynacraft, located in Algona, recognizes its responsibility to the community and is committed to reducing waste, conserving natural resources, and protecting the environment. In 2014, Dynacraft began a commingled recycling program, which has significantly reduced waste going to the landfill. The facility has less than 2 percent contamination between waste streams. Dynacraft has also partnered with neighboring businesses to support their need for reusable recyclable materials, and cost effective, waste stream options.
Advice to others: “Dynacraft’s success can be attributed to the use of strategically placed recycle bins, returnable shipping containers, packaging material reductions, and supplier recycling partnerships. We encourage other businesses to remain diligent in their efforts to reduce and reuse for the betterment of the environment. Businesses should make it a priority to establish and implement policies focused on best practices for recycling and waste reduction. It is important to reach out to others in the community and share ideas; it takes the combined efforts of all to make a difference!”
Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Inc. is a civil engineering and environmental sciences consulting firm. Their office in Federal Way has been a member of the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling since the program began and once again is on the program’s Honor Roll. Every year they find more ways to increase the recycling efforts. Recycle bins can be found in all cubicles, offices, meeting rooms and common areas for easy recycling of paper, plastic, cans cardboard and glass. The company has established a reuse area for mailing boxes, envelopes and other packaging materials. Employee education is provided, including labels and posters to keep everyone up to date on changes or any additions to the program. Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Inc., also collects and returns used toner cartridges and recycles electronic equipment.
Joining the Honor Roll list for its third year is Kenworth Truck Company – Renton Plant, a seven-time member of the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling program. This truck plant’s extensive list of recyclable materials with established programs include paper, cardboard, wood, plastics, metals, cooking oil, engine oils, batteries, light bulbs, electronics, food composting, antifreeze and toner cartridges. Their cafeteria now has a composting program for food waste and food service items. They work with suppliers to reuse some packaging supplies and reduce packaging waste. Kenworth Truck Company also recycles wood pallets, and continues to invest in returnable and reusable shipping racks to reduce wood use.
Advice to others: “Take a dive into your dumpsters, and take a hard look at what's ending up in your waste bins. Then ask for help – many waste service providers offer help with waste reduction and/or diversion options.”
The Boeing Company the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems, is a King County Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. From 2007-12, Boeing reduced waste to landfill by 36 percent, while increasing production rates by 50 percent. In King County, the company’s recycling rate is over 70 percent for paper, metal, cardboard, wood, and other materials. Boeing works throughout the supply chain to reduce waste and develop recycling outlets. A dedicated organization within the company works with suppliers to reduce metal waste, which in 2014reduced waste aluminum by over 16 million pounds in Auburn alone. Boeing recycled over 85 percent of the material from the demolition of Plant 2, and all new buildings are constructed to LEED Silver standards to help effectively manage construction waste and use reclaimed materials.
Advice to others: “The keys to developing and sustaining a solid waste program are: work upstream with your supply chain to find creative ways to reduce waste; include key stakeholders that are responsible for performing and sustaining new processes; engage leadership for support; show the full benefits of waste reduction, including production time, safety, and packaging costs; training and engaging employees on the why’s (benefits) and how’s (instructions); work with your waste providers and haulers for best practice ideas and ensured coordination; and communication, communication, communication!”
Special recognition goes to: Employees Desmond Chanez, Joe Schoepfer, Sandy Holtman, Dave Mulhall, and Dave Groseclose, who have been instrumental in reducing waste sent to landfills and boosting recycling at Boeing’s parts warehouse, the Spares Distribution Center in SeaTac. The team’s brainstorming and conservation ideas have reduced the amount of trash the warehouse sent to landfills by 70 percent, from 122 to 38 tons annually; and improved the facility’s recycling rate from 77 to 93 percent. Because of these environmentally active employees, packaging from incoming containers is reused; less new packing material is required for new purchases; and there are more recycling containers and fewer garbage cans throughout the facility to make it easier for warehouse employees to recycle and reduce waste.
Clarisonic joins the list of Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling for the first year. They design, manufacture, market and ship sonic skin cleansing devices out of their Redmond location. The company has implemented a number of waste prevention/recycling practices, including a cardboard compacting program that allows them to recycle more efficiently as well as a waste compacting program. All returned or expired lotions are sent to Covanta, a company that recycles waste into energy. They also recycle all plastics and outdated computer equipment. In May of this year, they implemented a composting program to enhance their overall waste reduction.
Advice for others: "Both getting started the right way and training are key. We don’t expect it to be perfect at first, but we’ll continue to make improvements as we go. In this way, our employees can have fun with the program and learn the nuances at the same time."
Special recognition: Mary Bergstrom, leader of the waste prevention and recycling program, and her supporters Bernie Paul, Susan Ouzts, Jeff Anabel and Jane Lockwood.
Hexcel Corporation is proud to be named to the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for its third year. Hexcel manufactures and tests lightweight, high-performance components used in commercial and military aircraft, and has a location in Kent. The Hexcel Kent facility has sustained waste reduction, material reuse and recycling initiatives as part of site operations and processes. They recycle approximately 80 percent of solid waste by volume and send 75 percent of hazardous waste to “waste to energy” reuse programs. They manage a just-in-time inventory system to prevent waste and donate usable surplus material to community college training programs. Hexcel partners with customers to ship products with little to no packaging and purchase office supplies such as paper and printer cartridges made from recycled material.
Honeywell Inc. is a large technology and manufacturing company that is a new addition to the list of Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling. Over the last two years their Redmond site has made conscious efforts to recycle and reuse both hazardous and non-hazardous wastes. This included recycling glass slides and other lab equipment; reusing chemicals used in solids separation; and recycling antifreeze. They also introduced composting food waste in the cafeteria. These efforts allowed them to reduce their compacter services, saving them approximately $200 per month. Composting waste alone saved them an additional $500 in 2014.
Net IG joins the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling in King County list this year. The Kent-based company designs and manufactures cable infrastructure. Net IG promotes waste reduction through a zero-new-packaging production line and reuses all received packaging materials. Their aggressive environmental policy includes eliminating non-reusable bottles and paper cups from the office; recycling wooden pallets, batteries and scrap metals; and encouraging employees to bring electronics from home for recycling.
Advice for others: "Check all of your resources and waste management programs in the area to see what they have to offer. Resources you already use often have programs and tools to help your company reduce waste and recycle more."
Special recognition: Denver Kerby, for going above and beyond by researching and implementing the majority of green initiatives as a part of Net IG’s Green Team.
Rainier Industries, Ltd. joins us for the fourth time on the list of Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling. Rainier is a custom manufacturing company specializing in a diverse array of fabric, display and shade products based in Tukwila. In 2014, they switched hazardous waste haulers to a vendor able to remove inks, solvents and paints from scrap fabric. The residue is repurposed and the rags are now classified as non-hazardous and recyclable. They recycle over 70 percent of their total waste, diverting a total of 1,872 tons of waste from the landfill over the past four years. They were recently re-certified for their ISO 14001 Environmental Management System, a process that involves extensive communication about their internal environmental policy to vendors and customers. Last year, Rainier Industries saved $53,422 by recycling materials instead of sending them to the landfill, and they estimate that the total has been more than $200,000 over the last four years.
Advice to others: “Create an environmental policy that resonates with your employees and create an atmosphere that inspires everyone to protect and respect the environment, both at home and in your place of business.”
Special recognition: Nina and Carl, for enthusiastically answering questions during a recent Environmental Management Systems (EMS) recertification audit about what the company”s EMS policy means to them, and how their jobs and training can have an impact on the environment.
The Tukwila manufacturing facility of Shasta Beverages joins the list of Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling for the first time this year. Shasta Beverages is a high-speed beverage production facility that produces both cans and bottles. They continually fine-tune their recycling program through frequent audits of their Dumpster content. Corrugated cardboard and aluminum, their two largest streams of recyclable material, generate significant revenue for the facility.
Weyerhaeuser is a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling and a member of the Honor Roll. A manufacturer of wood products, Weyerhaeuser grows trees and makes forest products that improve lives in fundamental ways. In manufacturing, almost 98 percent of every harvested log is used. Wood chips left over from making lumber are used to make pulp and paper, and logs that are too small for dimensional lumber are processed into engineered wood products. Energy is also generated from wood residuals. In 2013, this resulted in over 20 billion pounds of residuals being reused, recycled or diverted from landfills.
Internally, the company has a large focus on waste reduction. Within the office, recycling and compost bins can be found in all conference rooms and other centrally-located areas. Their on-site café offers reusable dishware and compostable packaging for take-out items. They also have an employee green team, called "The Sustainables,” that focuses on making environmental improvements throughout the campus. For the past three summers, they have held waste-free company picnics in which the majority of waste generated was diverted to recycling or composting.
FCS Group provides financial and management consulting services in the Pacific Northwest. The Redmond office returns for their seventh consecutive year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. FSC Group had a representative from Waste Management host a meeting for its employees who taught their company how to recycle more effectively and also how to donate and reuse items around the office and at home. The meeting was well attended and the staff is eager to engage in more sustainable practices. The company sends and receives documents by scanning, rather than faxing, and uses electronic meeting notes to reduce paper waste from handouts.
CHOICE Insurance LLC is an independent insurance agency based in Kirkland. They have been a paperless company for over 10 years. In addition to signing up for paperless statements and documents when possible, they scan in all paper copies of documents and send them electronically or on a thumb drive to clients. They reuse or shred and recycle all paper that does come through the office. These paper waste-saving techniques save the company money, as they use two to three reams of paper per week compared to the two to three per day they used before going paperless 10 years ago. CHOICE reduced energy usage by replacing older fluorescent lights with energy efficient and LED lighting where possible and installing light sensor switches for parking and hallways.
Advice to others: "Follow our guidelines above and donate the savings to a non-profit organization of your choice!"
This is the first year that Guidant Financial is on the list of Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling in King County. The company strives to be paperless whenever possible. They use online file sharing for internal documents, as well as an online customer portal and file share network for customers. They also offer automatic and paperless billing, use email campaigns for marketing, and always use fax, email or phone as the first line of communication with clients before mailing.
Hyatt Regency Bellevue returns for the sixth year with new waste prevention efforts to share. With 732 guest rooms and 70,000 square feet of meeting space, they make a commendable effort to reduce waste and recycle. Recent improvements include strategically placing recycling bins in the lobby and foyer areas to increase recycling awareness and opportunities for guests. The kitchen uses an automated fryer oil management system that reduces waste, labor costs, and repair and replacement costs for manual oil filtering and disposal equipment. They recently installed MeLinks On Demand Ventilation, which reduces waste by controlling the amount of conditioned air used by the kitchen ventilation system. After a recent renovation, the Hyatt donated mattresses, metal, towels, and toiletries to local charities and recycling programs, and recycled 90 percent of their used furniture. The Hyatt is proud to be one of 57 hotels nationwide to receive the “5 Green Key” rating from the Green Key Eco-Rating Program. The hotel has almost doubled their recycling rate since 2011, to a total of 169 tons in 2014.
Advice to others: “The Hyatt Regency Bellevue has built a culture of sustainable living. We are constantly challenging our associates to brainstorm new ideas that would reduce our environmental footprint.”
Marlene’s Market & Deli of Federal Way returns for their fifth year with King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling, landing a spot on the Honor Roll. This natural food store continues its habits of reusing, recycling, and composting. They have expanded their composting service to include all food scraps and coffee grounds. Marlene’s Market & Deli also offers compostable packaging and recyclable plastic for to-go items. They are currently researching technology that would reduce their carbon footprint.
Advice to others: “Try making one small change every day to reduce waste. Start today by setting your computer to default to double-sided copies. The next day, set up a box to collect used batteries, or see if you can change one of the disposable materials you use on a daily basis to a re-usable product. Little changes can have a big impact.”
Pagliacci Pizza returns for their fifth year with King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling, earning a spot on the Honor Roll. They were the first pizza company in the world to use pizza boxes and paper bags certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The forests, mills, and manufacturer for their packaging are all located within the Pacific Northwest. Pagliacci created a poster to educate their employees on what the business does to be environmentally friendly. Many locations have this poster on display for customers to see, and it is also included in the employee handbook. Pagliacci’s Madison Valley location is LEED certified and the Fremont location is equipped with solar panels.
Advice to others: “Stick with a good waste reduction and recycling plan and make sure you're educating your employees on what to do. If one person is enthusiastic and diligent about it, there is a tendency for others to follow.”
Twelve Baskets Catering, based out of Kirkland, reached the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling Honor Roll in their fifth consecutive year on the list. As one of the first earth-friendly restaurants and catering services in Puget Sound, they are proud to say that they have been recycling since 1978, even before curbside collection was available. Twelve Baskets Catering infuses reuse, reduction and recycling throughout their business model Food scraps go into compost totes for bi-weekly pickup, and the business also donates safe leftover food to the Union Gospel Mission every week.
They estimate that recycling and repurposing saved them over $2,000 last year alone. The biodegradable plates, cups and utensils they use for some events are less expensive than their plastic counterparts; and at other events renting out plates, glasses and silverware brings in extra income. Their waste reduction methods also improve the quality of their product: They cut down on packaging and food waste by saving vegetables and meat scraps to make less expensive and better tasting homemade stocks and broths.
Advice to others: "Just remember it is not very hard to recycle or compost! An easy first step is to place the appropriate bins where people can see and use them. People will realize how easy it is and it may lead them to continue the practice at home. Another easy way to think Green is to encourage staff to carpool when able!"
Special recognition: Owner John Bagge has made reusing, recycling and composting a priority in the company since it started in 1976. He is constantly challenging his employees to think green, and sets an example not only within the business but in the community.
The Westin Bellevue returns to be named a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling for their seventh consecutive year. This hotel does their best to promote a sustainable lifestyle among their guests and team members and is on a continuous mission to become “greener” where possible. They donate to the Clean the World Foundation, which collects and recycles soap and shampoo discarded by the hospitality industry and distributes them to those in need. They also were one of the first hotels to implement the “Make a Green Choice” program, which allows guests to choose to decline housekeeping services in exchange for a reward, saving water and energy. Every week, they donate food that is unexpired and unopened or has not been served to the local Boys and Girls Club. Any food they cannot donate they compost along with food scraps, wood and appropriate paper products. They involve their suppliers in their waste reduction practices, and require that food and other supplies be shipped in recyclable boxes.
Advice to others: "It feels good, but it’s a constant battle. We try to go to different departments and do a waste audit once a year – more if there is high turnover. Recycling is a condition of employment, so we get everyone on board."
The BBQ Schacht is a small restaurant and catering company located in SeaTac. They return to King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling for a fourth consecutive year. The BBQ Schacht collects all pre-consumer commingled recycling materials and recently started post-consumer recycling in their restaurant. Their recycling success was confirmed in two independent waste audits, which showed only 5 percent of the material found in the garbage to be recyclable.
Maven Meals & Maven Mercantile is a meal service located in Burien that delivers home-cooked, nutritious meals throughout King County. As a proud new member of the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list, Maven Meals takes recycling and food waste composting seriously. Each work station in the kitchen is equipped with a compost bin as well as a small trash receptacle for gloves and other non-recyclable items to keep them out of the food waste stream. The business was responsible for initiating food waste composting at the shared commissary kitchen where they previously operated. By composting food scraps, Maven Meals saves an average of $750 per year on waste disposal costs.
Returning for their eighth year as a Best Workplace for Recycling and Waste Prevention, the City of Bellevue once again lands a spot on the program’s honor roll. The City of Bellevue significantly increased the volume collected through its technology and expanded polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam) recycling efforts in 2015 by educating and empowering facility staff to own and manage the program. Most recycling programs are in maturity, so the City has turned to green procurement practices as a strategy to reduce waste, increasing its purchases of green office products by 12 percent last year.
They adopted a "preferred shopping list" for recycled content and remanufactured office products, including cardboard binders to eliminate difficult to recycle vinyl binder waste. The City also encourages vendors to consolidate small orders to reduce vehicle trips and packaging waste.
The City of Issaquah returns to the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for its fifth year and makes the Honor Roll. The City of Issaquah not only promotes recycling and waste reduction among its citizens and businesses, but works hard to reduce waste and recycle within city government as well. In 2012, the City Council voted to institute a citywide ban on plastic bags, a policy that was upheld by voters. The City works with restaurants to promote food waste composting and makes sure all City events include recycling and composting. The Facilities Department recycles as much as possible from demolished buildings on City property. The Support Services Department thoroughly researches and purchases recycled content office supplies and products.
Advice to others: “We encourage businesses to look to commercial haulers, City programs, and King County for employee training resources and ways to reduce waste. Businesses often see cost savings after implementing these programs, and it gives employees the sense that their employer is doing the right thing to help the environment.”
The City of Kent lands on the Honor Roll of King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list, continuing to lead by example for its citizens. The City of Kent has been recycling toner cartridges for a number of years, and has recently added foam plastic to the list of recycled materials. The facilities maintenance crew purchases only green cleaning products. They host three recycling events per year for City of Kent residents where they also accept items that are difficult or costly to recycle. They also promote recycling in their e-newsletter and through social media, and new employees receive information about recycling and food waste diversion in their new-hire packets to ensure participation.
Advice to others: “We have an in-house Eco-Hero Award which we give out when the committee, which is made up of previous award recipients, sees a fellow employee doing some exceptional activity deserving recognition.”
The City of Redmond continually strives to improve its waste reduction practices, making it on King County’s Best Workplace for Recycling and Waste Prevention Honor Roll for their third time. At City Hall, there is food composting in all kitchen areas, durable plates and cups are provided, printers are set to double-sided printing, and paperless, online applications are used. Employees are able to recycle a range of materials such as batteries, Styrofoam, and cooking oil. The City also buys recycled items when possible. They use 30 percent post-consumer copy paper and purchase recycled lumber.
Advice to others: “Be sure to check with the staff of the city in which your business operates to find out about free programs they may offer to help reduce waste and recycle more. In Redmond call 425-556-2832.”
Making it on the Honor Roll list of King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling for the third time, the City of SeaTac continues to promote environmental stewardship. The City works with their contracted solid waste collection hauler to either find places to reuse discarded items or a recycling option for items no longer needed in-office. After City Hall went through a recent revision and clean-out of office areas, unwanted items were placed in a designated in-house reuse area or recycled.
Advice to others: “When information has been posted for an extended period of time, replace it with a new poster/flyer that looks different – such as with a new color, font or pictures. People get used to seeing the same poster and will take a new look at a revised one. It can help remind people what goes where and why.”
The City of Tukwila returns to the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for the sixth consecutive year, earning a spot on the Honor Roll. The City tries to provide varied opportunities for its residents and employees to prevent waste and recycle. They recently expanded food composting opportunities to include the City’s four fire stations, and offered training to all fire staff.
Advice to others: “Changing established habits can be challenging. Sometimes the priority of reducing waste and recycling doesn’t correspond with the priorities of other staff. Try to identify a point person to lead recycling efforts in different departments. Establish clear communication and expectation to the greatest degree possible.”
The City of Bothell joins King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling this year. The City is constantly working to identify new ways to reduce or recycle. Anytime a new building is added or offices move, employees consider reusing or repurposing materials before purchasing new items, and sharing is the norm. In addition to reusing and recycling, they collect food scraps for composting, including debris from sinks caught in strainers.
Returning to the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for the third year is the City of Federal Way. The City strives to serve as a waste prevention and recycling model for area institutions, businesses and residents. Employees at City Hall can recycle an extensive list of materials, from office paper, cans, bottles and paper packaging to ink and toner cartridges, batteries, mercury-containing lights, yard debris, and food waste. The City also provides public recycling access at several locations for batteries, cellphones, compact fluorescent lightbulbs and tubes, and bottle caps.
Advice to others: "Don’t let lack of space (indoor or outdoor) hinder you from expanding your recycling efforts. Interior recycling containers don’t need to be fancy – they just need to be conveniently located and well-marked. You can allow recycling to be collected from work stations once a week versus every evening, which can help gain acceptance from your custodial staff. Take advantage of the up-to-date listing of recycling purveyors via King County's on-line 'what do I do with' database."
The City of Kirkland returns for their fourth year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. The City works hard to reduce waste and recycle more. In fall 2014, they started a very successful paper towel composting program for the bathrooms at City Hall. Employees were excited to find a way to reduce a large source of trash and adapted to the program quickly. Recycling and reducing waste saves them significantly on tonnage and disposal costs internally, and City of Kirkland staff actively work with businesses to help them save as well. Recycling and organics programs offered by the City of Kirkland are free for businesses, offering an outstanding opportunity for cost savings.
Advice to others: “Be creative and willing to try new things! We’ve found that employees are very receptive to new programs. They like to have these options available to them, and like to be able to reduce more at work.”
The City of Lake Forest Park is a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling for the first time this year. Lake Forest Park offers recycling at City Hall for electronics, batteries, and CFL lightbulbs so residents can easily drop off their used or unwanted items at a central location. The City also hosts the Earth Smart Green Fair, where they have educational information on best practices and “how-to’s” on recycling and reducing waste. They also reduce waste and save money on paper and ink by printing less, using double-sided printing, and editing documents via email and on a shared drive.
Making the list of Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling for the second year, the City of Mercer Island constantly seeks ways to reduce the impacts of its own operations, as well as the actions of its citizens. The City of Mercer Island is proud to share one of the highest residential recycling rates in King County, at 65 percent. The lunchroom composting program at City Hall is being expanded to other facilities, and employee cookouts and public ceremonies aim to be waste-free. Twice a year, free public recycling event are held where residents can recycle difficult items such as appliances, tires, and batteries. The City demonstrates its commitment to sustainability and efficiency with a full-time Sustainability Manager. In 2014, the City of Mercer Island launched a single-use plastic bag ban across all retail sectors (except take-out food), and has since held several popular reusable bag giveaways. Many aging or hazardous trees felled on the Island are chipped for use by Natural Areas staff.
Advice to others: "It’s important to demonstrate best practices at City facilities, events, and public meetings, in order to encourage residents to do the same."
With a comprehensive waste reduction and recycling program in place, the City of Renton makes the best Workplaces for Recycling and Waste Prevention for its second time. The City continually strives to improve its standard recycling and organics and food waste compost collection. City staff events have full recycling and food waste compost collection available, as well as use compostable plates and service ware. The City continues to look for new materials to collect and recycle throughout its facilities, a list which already includes batteries and toner cartridges. A brown bag lunch presentation is being developed for employees that will include waste prevention and recycling tips and strategies, to supplement information in the online newsletter. A city policy revised this year requires all surplus items to be transferred internally between city departments before being traded in, donated or sold.
Advice to others: "There are lots of resources that can help business reduce waste and increase recycling, including City utility departments, waste haulers and Master Recycler-Composter programs."
The City of Shoreline makes the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for the third year in a row. Shoreline continues to expand its recycling program by collecting paper towels in City Hall restrooms. In addition, the City plans to transition to a new office supply contractor that offers 100 percent recycled-content paper for copier machines at a lower cost. This change has the potential to save the City between $900 and $2,500 in purchasing costs next year. Shoreline implemented a plastic bag ban in 2013 and distributed no-cost reusable bags made out of recycled materials to promote the ordinance.
Advice to others: “Work interdepartmentally to achieve waste reduction goals.”
This is the City of Snoqualmie’s first year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. As a local government, the City of Snoqualmie offers residents and employees numerous opportunities to recycle many kinds of materials. Annual community recycling collection events are well attended by residents, and the City sponsors year-round programs to collect and recycle fluorescent lights, batteries, used oil and yard and food waste. The City has a reclaimed water utility that provides much of the water used for irrigating public and private properties. At City Hall and in other City-run offices, recycling and waste reduction practices have reduced waste considerably. They purchase less paper, toner and other supplies due to two-sided printing and paperless record keeping, allowing them to maintain the same size waste containers despite substantial growth in the community and City workforce.
Advice to others: “Making significant changes in consumption and disposal practices requires consistent, ongoing efforts to remind staff of the environmental impact of their actions. This is not a subject that can be addressed once and then forgotten.”
North City Water District (NCWD) is a public water district that serves approximately 25,000 people in parts of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park. The NCWD returns to the Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for the second time this year. Recently the NCWD installed a water bottle filling station in its lobby to encourage the public to drink tap water as opposed to bottled water. This reduces waste and conserves fuel used in the production of plastic bottles. The lobby also has a collection container for employees and customers to recycle used household batteries.
Evergreenhealth joins King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling for the seventh consecutive year. Evergreenhealth is a 245-bed community hospital providing 24/7 care in Kirkland. They have streamlined their cafeteria for more efficient sorting items into recycling, compost and waste streams. They have improved compliance at recycling stations by providing “shadow boxes” with real examples of what goes in each type of bin. At their annual Earth Day fair, Evergreenhealth educates their staff about new initiatives with a mascot. This year, the mascot “Sparky” highlighted the six new electric car chargers installed in the hospital. They are currently formalizing a plan to phase out the use of hazardous chemicals. Evergreenhealth estimates that it saved over $15,000 as a result of improved sorting of waste, hazardous waste, recycling and compost.
Advice to others: “Continuously remind staff of your environmental initiatives so they know the current practice and are carried along by the organization’s enthusiasm for waste prevention and recycling.”
Special recognition: The Green Team, a core group of about 10 individuals that work on moving environmental initiatives forward. Each year the Green Team applis for the nationally acclaimed Partner for Change award offered by Practice Greenhealth, and Evergreenhealth has now received it for the last six years.
Federal Way Naturopathy, specializing in minimally invasive natural therapies, returns to King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for their fifth consecutive year, earning them a spot on the Honor Roll. In 2014, they started their own sustainability committee, which meets monthly to improve environmental awareness, education and recycling programs in and around the clinic. Some of these initiatives have included inviting a LEED certified building expert to speak to the staff; composting paper towels; reusing wastewater for office plants; and using “Good On One Side” paper notepads to uphold their internal no adhesive note policy. They implemented an electronic medical records program that reduces the need for charts, appointment calendars, file cabinets and other equipment associated with medical charting. They also encourage their patients and employees to adopt green policies in their own homes and offices.
Harmony Massage and Boutique in Bothell returns for its fifth year as a King County Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling, earning a spot on the Honor Roll. They continue to reduce waste where they can, from printing double-sided copies to buying higher-quality sheets that have an extended life cycle. Laundering sheets is a regular task in the massage industry so they use an onsite Energy Star washer and dryer set to wash sheets more efficiently. They have also continued to expand their line of crafts made from recycled materials. Popular items include vases made from Montana fence posts, ornaments and magnetic animals made from recycled phone books and magazines, and baby stockings made from yarn remnants.
Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue returns for its eighth consecutive year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling and is recognized for its sustained efforts to reduce waste by its place on the program’s honor roll. Special needs student volunteers from Bellevue School District help manage the recycling and composting programs in the cafeteria, helping patrons sort food scraps, compostable and recyclable food containers from garbage.
Advice to others: "It is an ongoing effort to educate the public. People still need help sorting their different kinds of waste."
Jeffrey A. Schur, DDS MSD joins in the Honor Roll in 2015 for completing five years as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. The orthodontics office has reduced their waste disposal by 50 percent by recently converting to paperless patient charting and by using digital X-rays that generate no chemical or material waste. They also recycle all non-contaminated paper products.
Advice to others: “We’ve found waste reduction to be convenient, economical, and rewarding. The key is to identify areas of potential improvement, assign someone for planning and implementation, and identify vendors who can be helpful.”
Division 9 Flooring, a commercial flooring company based in Woodinville, joins the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling in 2015. Division 9 Flooring builds sustainability into their business model. Since 2008, the company has recycled or diverted over 900,000 pounds of carpet and carpet pad from entering the landfill. They continuously research new ways to divert other forms of waste generated in the demolition and construction process from landfills as well. They reduce their need to purchase new packaging materials by reusing materials that are sent to them. Sustainable purchasing practices have helped the company recognize that their office does not need to rely on standard consumable products. They have a washer and dryer on-site for reusing towels and washcloths; they compost all food waste; and they encourage employees to bring in items that are difficult to recycle, like plastic bags, batteries, and light bulbs.
CDM Smith makes the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for the eighth time. The Bellevue based engineering, consulting and construction firm practices green concepts such as composting, recycling e-waste and paper reduction. The firm recently improved its recycling process by adding a “donation cubicle,” where employees can purge items they no longer need for others to reuse, including books, office supplies, and office equipment.
With some exciting recycling developments this year, Frito-Lay, Inc. of Federal Way earned a spot on the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling Honor Roll list for the third year in a row. Frito-Lay of Federal Way continues to reduce total waste each year and recycled 84 percent of their total waste in 2014; that was over 400,000 pounds of materials recycled. After switching over to electric vehicles on their highest-mileage routes, the site saved an additional 13 percent in fuel costs and 23,400 gallons of fuel over the previous year. This year, they developed a program to reduce cardboard case waste. The Federal Way distribution center ships 48,000 cases of snack food products per week, and they recycle the cardboard cases and send them back to production for refill. Their return rate goal is 95 percent, and they try to get seven to 10 reuse trips per cardboard case. For rainy weather, the facility developed a plastic bag that fits over the carts of cardboard so that no damage occurs and the cardboard cases can continue to be reused. They also continue to strive to make recycling easy by providing recycling bins and encouraging participation by team members.
In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes lands on the Honor Roll once again, having been a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling for the last eight years. They are committed to sustainable practices in their workplace, helping customers create landscapes that are designed and maintained in an environmentally responsible manner. They are also end users of recycled products, and last year used over 2,500 yards of composted topsoil from Cedar Grove. In addition to well established recycling practices, they have a take-back program in place for light bulbs and electronics. All printer cartridges are refilled or recycled, and their furnishings are made with recycled materials.
Keeney’s Office Supply returns for their fifth year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling and earns a spot on the Honor Roll. In business since 1947, Keeney’s is a local, independent, and woman-owned office supply and office interior business in the Seattle area. They recycle pens, markers and mechanical pencils through “Terracycle,” Styrofoam through “Styro-Cycle,” and their wooden pallets are reused by a neighbor. Increased sales over the past year have caused more plastic, cardboard and pallets to arrive in their warehouse, so they have increased recycling by another two Dumpsters per week. They reuse over 80,000 boxes a year for deliveries.
Keeney’s completely retrofitted their warehouse lights, which resulted in a 30 to 35 percent decrease in energy consumption and reduced their CO2 emissions by 35,000 pounds. They are also part of the Green Power program with Puget Sound Energy, where their contributions helped avoid the release of carbon dioxide emissions. They also planted over 200 trees to help offset their own carbon footprint from the previous year.
Cost savings: Keeney’s saved over $30,000 on waste pick up services by converting about 200 dumpsters (150 tons) of waste to recycling. By reusing boxes, they saved over $25,000.
Special recognition: The Keeney’s Green Team, made up of Lisa Keeney, Maureen Condit, Charles Jackson, Fawn Dunbar, and Amber Jackson, because of their commitment to making Keeney’s the most green it can be while providing the best quality customer service
The Safeway Distribution Center in Auburn is in their sixth year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling and earns a spot on this year’s honor roll list. The Asset Recovery Center (ARC) is responsible for reducing Safeway’s corporate carbon footprint and ensuring that recyclables are disposed of correctly. Their efforts have led to a 27 percent increase in compostable material, or a total of 15.7 million pounds of compost diverted from landfills. Cardboard recycling has also been increased by 6 percent over the last year.
Advice to others: “Do not be afraid to question the status quo! Go out and find companies that are driving new and brilliant ideas! There is a solution for everyone and every business out there.”
Special recognition: Safeway would like to recognize the entire ARC team for their dedication, hard work and green leadership. These employees are responsible for ensuring all recyclable material is correctly handled and sent out to specific vendors for further processing. Their focus and detail oriented mindset has shown that they are stewards of the community and value recycling in the workplace and at home. This team works extremely hard to ensure that nothing goes to waste. The Safeway ARC team includes Antonio Alexis, Wayne Appleberry, Dean Carmichael, Daniel Clark, Sean Davidson, Si Davidson, Jo Emerson, Frank Evans, Ryan Farrar, Manuel Fernandez, Victor Flores, Mike Galasso, Wayne Grinnell, Boyd Gunderson, Randy Heber, Edward Henry, Diane Lacy, Jason Mihaere, Mike Miles, Scott Miller, Wina Padre, Luke Pitman, Chit Quac, Jim Ross, Bryant Smith, Rodney Switzer, Anthony Thompson, Lawrence Thompson, Al Weigel, Rick Weigel and Tiffany Wong.
East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue has begun a waste prevention and recycling program. As a kickoff event, the youth program conducted a waste audit. The congregation was motivated to improve their recycling practices after the audit found significant contamination between the food waste, recycling and garbage bins. They have installed three-bin waste stations throughout the campus and improved signage to make the right waste sorting choice clear to all visitors.
King County welcomes GLY Construction back to the Best Workplaces list for the second time. GLY is a general contractor committed to the success of Pacific Northwest companies and communities and is dedicated to forming partnerships that enhance the quality of life. Last year, GLY identified a sustainable way to capture, reuse, and recycle rainwater, as well as responsibly clean out concrete slurry pans. They have a Sustainability Committee that meets regularly to educate, apply, and document GLY’s efforts in waste prevention. This year, the Committee has focused on researching greener options for products the company uses heavily; comparing the options; and aligning them with the overall budget.
Advice to others: “We have found that the best way to ensure that everyone is on board and participating in our waste prevention goals is to educate and constantly reinforce. We have sought to make our sustainability efforts a part of our culture here at GLY.”
Special recognition: The Sustainability Advocacy Committee, who leads the whole GLY team in working towards the company’s waste prevention goals
Les Boulangers Associes (LBA) returns to King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for the fourth consecutive year. A French bakery located in SeaTac, they produce baked goods for wholesale and look to reduce waste where they can. They have mixed recycling in place for cardboard, paper, plastic and have containers located around the bakery to capture this material. Recently, they have increased their recycling container and as a result have diverted material away from the landfill. They try on a daily basis to educate their employees about different kinds of recycling products. Everyone in the office supports this process and the team is constantly coming up with new ideas. They estimate that they have saved approximately $500 per month as a result of their waste reduction efforts.
Lula Ruby Organic Salon makes the Best Workplaces for Recycling and Waste Prevention list for the second time. They are always striving to reduce or eliminate their carbon footprint in the Snoqualmie Valley. Salon owners work with product supply companies that share their vision to eliminate unnecessary waste in packaging. Since day one, they have utilized Puget Sound Energy's Green Power program, and recycle everything down to the foils that are used in clients’ hair. This year they added a water filtration system to avoid bottled or delivered water, and their low energy washer and dryer combo costs as low as $15 per year to run. They even proudly compost the hair that they sweep up off the floor!
Advice to others: “There are simply too many EASY little changes that we could all make that would help in our communities’ overall waste production and recycling. The first step can be hard but it starts with a small change!”
Contact name & email: Michelle Strazis, email@example.com
Spiritwood at Pine Lake rejoins the Best Workplaces for Waste Reduction and Recycling for the second year. An assisted living community on the Sammamish Plateau, Spiritwood at Pine Lake serves and cares for their residents in all aspects of life including dining, activities and care services. This is the second year of their green program, which includes recycling and composting in all staff departments and residential areas of the community. Colored bins and instruction posters are located throughout the community to make being green easy and accessible to all residents and staff members. Staff and resident guidance is on-going daily. With the implementation of this program, residents and staff have reduced Spiritwood's garbage collection by half. This year, they replaced all compact fluorescent lightbulbs with LED lights in the common areas and resident apartments, reducing their annual energy costs by $3,000. They are very proud of what they have achieved so far and plan to continue to expand their green program.
Advice to others: “You are never too old to be green!”
Starfire Sportsis a soccer complex with 12 outdoor and two indoor fields where numerous soccer leagues, practices, tournaments and professional games take place each year. They return for their fourth year as one of King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Reduction and Recycling. Starfire uses reclaimed water to irrigate the grass fields, and have recycling bins placed conveniently next to all garbage cans. Starfire Sports has also reduced paper waste by utilizing computer programs for daily tasks, including team rosters and check-in, employee scheduling, timecards, and more. They strive to consolidate orders with other onsite tenants, which helps reduce the use of shipping materials.
Advice for others: “Having recycling bins conveniently located has a large and positive impact. People want to recycle, while they may not try to find a recycling bin if they only see a trash can. With all the water and sports beverages consumed at and near the fields, many well-placed recycling bins goes a long way towards encouraging proper disposal and making it easy to do so.”
Styro Recycle LLC is a collector and processor of Styrofoam located in Kent. The company makes its debut on the list of Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling in King County this year. The company collects Expanded Polystyrene (EPS, commonly known as Styrofoam) to be reused in recycled plastic products. They have a pick-up service for local businesses and a residential and business drop site where they collect Styrofoam, polyethylene foam and cardboard. In 2014, Styro Recycle recycled approximately 300 tons of EPS as well as 169 tons of polyethylene film and foam. This helps companies and residents reduce their garbage bills while diverting material from the landfill.
Advice for others: “Sorting is key! Sorting and separating your clean and dry EPS and polyethylene foam before recycling it at our drop-off center helps reduce the cost of the process. Continue to search for better ways to reduce waste in addition to recycling. These products fill your Dumpsters and trash receptacles, and do not break down in the landfill.”
David Evans and Associates (DEA), an employee-owned engineering and consulting firm based in Bellevue, continues to demonstrate stewardship of the built and natural environments. They join the Honor Roll for the third year as one of King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling program. The firm’s core purpose is to improve quality of life while remaining environmentally conscious. Recycling bins and instructions are situated in each office, and facilities for recycling reusable batteries, CFL bulbs, disks and ink cartridges are provided as well. Their major focus in the last year has been to increase the use of electronic file transfers, online file transfer sites, and portable hard drives to convey information internally and to clients without using paper.
Advice to others: “With a focus on electronic file transfers, it is easy to provide “jump drives” or portable hard drives to help staff reduce the usage of paper products and printing. This is an inexpensive and more environmentally friendly way to reduce our overall usage of printing paper and toner.”
HDR Engineering, Inc, a national engineering and consulting firm, returns to the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for the ninth straight year. HDR’s Bellevue team incorporates sustainable practices into project planning, design and execution whenever possible. This year, they asked the building’s facilities maintenance staff to empty desk-side trash and recycling only twice per week, in order to save garbage bag liners and reprioritize vacuuming and dusting. The Bellevue Green Team is advising HDR offices nationwide on how to implement Waste Prevention and Recycling programs.
Advice to others: “Update signage as often as necessary – keep signage at eye level and easy to comprehend quickly with graphics. You also need leadership at the top supporting your zero waste goals and pushing those goals down throughout the organization.”
Special recognition: Leanne Raaberg-Stall, who updates recycling and composting signage on all three floors of the office; contacts waste haulers about newly accepted items; works with the corporate office to update sustainability initiatives in the copying and printing areas; and shares information with other Washington State offices to further promote waste reduction and recycling throughout the state.
Neil Levinson Enterprises returns as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling for their fifth year, qualifying them for the Best Workplaces Honor Roll. This small, Kirkland-based furniture and cabinet wholesale business has been recycling for many of the 26 years they have been in business. They were the first company in Kirkland to use BioBags for their yard waste bins, where they compost all their shredded documents. Recently, they have begun reusing their Styrofoam peanuts by finding other local businesses that need them for shipping.
Outsource Marketing is in their ninth year as a King County Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling, having been recognized every year since the program started. The Issaquah-based marketing agency continues its focus on being a low waste office. All Outsource employees sign a Green Pact, and nearly every part of the business is handled digitally. They save time and money through online meetings; digital estimates and approvals; online billing instead of printing, stuffing envelopes and mailing; online document revisions; and signing agreements online. They use a Nest thermostat, which allows them to reduce energy while having considerably more control over office temperatures. The company has their HVAC system serviced regularly, which contributes to the efficiency of their heating and cooling system.
Advice to others: “Whenever possible, all contracts should be approved with a digital signature. We’ve done this for years and it saves a lot of time. All our projects are approved with one click. It’s easier for your customers, and then they are archived in the cloud and you can find them instantly.”
Wilder Environmental Consulting has been a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling for five consecutive years and this year is welcomed to the Honor Roll. An environmental consulting business based in Burien, they have stringent recycling and waste reduction policies both onsite and in the field. They use 100 percent recycled content office paper, envelopes, letterhead, and business cards. They compost food, use LED light bulbs, use a hybrid Toyota Prius as their company car, utilize iPADs in the field to reduce paper use and store and share documents electronically. This year they are contributing materials and time to help build a local earthship. They utilize the Buy Nothing website to donate unwanted items locally for reuse.
Advice to others: “Set goals that are realistic each year, and continually evaluate practice to further reduce waste.”
Blueprint Consulting Services, LLC provides progressive business management and IT solutions. This is the Bellevue-based firm’s first year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. Blueprint Consulting Services reduces their paper waste by using an electronic system to gather information and signatures for client agreements, purchase orders and other important documents. They encourage employees to use plates, silverware, and reusable water bottles, and recycling bins are in every office, corner and meeting room. When the company moved into their new office building, the leadership team decided to reuse the furniture of the previous occupant, saving roughly $30,000 as a result.
Special recognition goes to: Outstanding consultant Anthony Collins. From the moment Anthony began working for Blueprint, he has looked for ways to reduce and eliminate waste. He brings in his own coffee beans and a reusable k-cup to make coffee every day and checks under the sink and in the bathroom regularly to evaluate the efficiency of the office’s water use.
Farallon Consulting, LLCis an environmental consulting firm committed to being green. Sustainability is part of Farallon’s strategic plan, and the company has a “Going Greener” team that champions new efforts. Every office and common area has a recycling bin, and every common area and bathroom has a composting bin, leading to high recycling and composting rates and low levels of contamination. As an office, they also recycle batteries and electronics, provide washable dishes in the kitchen areas, and have implemented a paperless reporting and filing system. Their efforts have led to approximately 400 pounds less waste generated by the office per month.
A returning member to the list, Golder Associates, Inc. is one of the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling thanks to some creative approaches to sustainability. As a global company providing consulting, design, and construction services, Golder embraces sustainability. They recently updated and electronically released a firm-wide sustainable development report. The plan includes targets for reducing the company’s carbon footprint. Locally, they updated the company’s environmental issues register, which contains tactics to identify, manage, and improve upon their workplace’s environmental challenges, such as waste management. Their office promotes and encourages use of video-conferencing and instant messaging to reduce corporate travel and in turn, their carbon footprint. Golder Associates, Inc. continues to improve recycling and composting programs, use printers with eco-smart defaults, deliver e-reports, and offer an alternative commuting incentive program. This year, they created an “Office Trading Post,” which encourages staff to reduce, reuse, recycle and restore office supplies and equipment by dropping off unneeded supplies. This new policy has saved the company money on new supplies while reducing unnecessary waste.
Advice to others: “We’ve found that good communication with staff regarding the company's waste prevention and recycling goals, programs, and successes increases participation and integrates sustainability into our company culture. Communications include review of our recycling and waste programs during new-hire training, increased signage at waste collection areas, and office-wide emails detailing new procedures and goals. We encourage employees to take these green practices from the office to their home, so that it becomes an employee lifestyle.”
Special recognition: Golder’s Pacific Northwest Environmental and Sustainability Committee, championed by Aaron Rydecki and supported by core committee members Alison Dennison, Greg Curtiss, Traci Sanderson, Diane Crawford, Jen Pepe, Sarah Koski, Rens Verburg, Amanda Cote, Todd Morris, Jane Mills, Peter Fahringer, Annika Fain, Brian Mattax, Grant Bailey, Tom Stapp, Sue Ando, and Angela Kinderis. Peter Fahringer organized a clean-up event in April 2015 to kick off Golder’s participation in the King County Adopt-a-Road program; Sue Ando created and operates the Office Trading Post; and Greg Curtiss helped Golder achieve "Bronze Designation" by the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly Business program.
Ingenium Group, LLC is a waste disposer and recycler with services that include transportation, recycling, and repurposing of hazardous, biological, and radiological materials. This year, their Kent office returns to be listed as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling for the fourth year in a row. Ingenium helps companies reduce costs by streamlining their processes and minimizing their waste volumes through strategies such as redirecting manufacturing by-products and from the landfill to waste-to-energy programs. Their goal is to do much more than provide a disposal or even recycling services to their clients. Ingenium is committed to a partnership with clients in environmental management issues, working together to increase sustainability and reduce costs, and recapturing capital in every possible area.
Advice to others: "Ingenium is proud to be in the vanguard of regulated waste management and sustainability through innovative recycling and process collection efforts. Results such as those provided by our Emerald Energy and Orphan Chemical programs are designed to help our clients maximize their efforts while reaping the greatest possible benefit."
Knowledge Anywhere, Inc. is a tech company located in Bellevue that provides corporate training and custom eLearning tools to companies large and small. This is their first year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling in King County. The company uses paperless communication whenever possible, and encourages employees and customers to collaborate and share documents through the web. As a part of Knowledge Anywhere’s effort to go paperless, the company has recently started using an online signature service for signing all documents.
American Classic Homes is a real estate firm based in Renton that has been on the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling for nine years running. Understanding that their industry is generally paper heavy, the employees at American Classic Homes have switched to scanning, sharing and storing their paperwork through their online server. They switched to a multi-use, central office copier/printer that keeps track of usage and efficiency. Paper that is printed by error is recycled or used in other ways around the office. Many of the brokers use a laminated flyer in the flyer boxes for homes that are for sale and do not print excess flyers. ACH uses the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which recently upgraded to an online service. The platform allows brokers and other parties included in a real estate transaction to work on online files, reducing the need to print excess documents. Their brokers also send and receive signatures on purchases and sale transactions to clients’ emails. The company expects to save approximately $5,000 in 2014 and 2015.
Rowley Properties once again shows their commitment to sustainability, returning on King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for their eighth consecutive year, placing them on the program’s Honor Roll. As a real estate development company, their sustainability efforts go beyond the workplace. For three generations, the Rowleys have cherished the Issaquah community. Their projects focus on intelligent and sustainable designs that benefit communities for years to come. In their own workplace, they collect food waste for compost and continue to reduce paper waste. They offer a paperless accounts payable system that allows vendors to submit invoices electronically, eliminating the need for paper invoices and paper checks. The company’s methods emphasize leading by example, and they educate and encourage their tenants to adopt sustainable practices. Rowley Properties strives to incorporate sustainable strategies into their construction projects and property management, continuously improving building performance and purchasing recycled materials whenever possible.
Allied Residential’s Arbor Heights apartments are a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling in 2015. The Arbor Heights apartments are a 97-unit multi-family, low-income apartment complex in White Center. The property is fully renovated to provide clean, safe and affordable living to families. Arbor Heights partnered with New Futures, an organization that provides after school programs for low-income school-aged children, to establish a recycling plan at Arbor Heights. New Futures also provided education to residents on ways to improve recycling and reduce waste. As a result, Arbor Heights has added recycling bins throughout the property to respond to residents’ increased demand for recycling services. Last year, they reduced the amount of waste generated per week by at least 20 percent, while increasing recycling capacity by well over 200 percent.
Advice for others: “Include everyone. One person cannot conserve or recycle for another. Once our residents became invested in the community and became committed to the vision, great things started to happen.”
Special recognition goes to: Danae Polk, the manager of Arbor Heights, who has been a champion of the recycling program and the catalyst for its success.
Auburn Square is an apartment community joining the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list. The apartments’ recycling program is always one of the first things mentioned to prospective residents, as the community is proud of its green efforts. Staff educate residents about recycling and keep them updated on any changes or improvements made to the program. When residents move out, Auburn Square arranges for any items they no longer want to be picked up for donation. Their emphasis on recycling has led to an overall decrease in the cost of trash removal.
Advice for others: “Stress the positive effects that recycling has on your neighborhood.”
The Cottonwood Apartments in Kent join the list of Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling in King County. Cottonwood Apartments have had a five star rating with EnviroStars since 2010, in recognition of their exceptional hazardous waste management practices. They have continued to make every effort to reduce waste, including increasing the size of their recycling bins and reducing trash pick-ups from twice to only once each week. Cottonwood has saved several hundred dollars by using reusable coffee cups and water bottles, and cleaning with natural household items like vinegar and water instead of purchasing industrial cleaning products.
Cove East Apartments is an apartment community located in Federal Way, and this year they join King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list. Cove East recently installed a trash compactor, a used clothing collection bin, and compost bins. These improvements have saved the apartments $1,000 to $1,500 per month on their garbage bill. The apartments have also installed larger recycling bins in several areas of the property to respond to increased demand for recycling services by residents. The success of these efforts is largely due to strong support by the apartment owners and upper management.
The Gilman Square apartments join the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for the first time this year. This multi-family apartment community located in Issaquah counts upholding green standards among their highest priorities. They monitor employees and work with vendors to ensure they are doing everything possible to meet waste prevention and recycling goals within budgeted guidelines.
King County Housing Authority returns for their third year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. The agency provides rental housing and rental assistance to more than 18,000 low-income households and use green building concepts in their development projects.
KCHA actively promotes and encourages employees to reduce and recycle everything possible, with established recycling programs for all curbside materials, electronics, food scraps, batteries, plastic foam, fluorescent bulbs, and hazardous chemicals. The KCHA Central Campus in Tukwila has downsized their facility garbage container and expanded composting capacity to accommodate higher rates of food and paper composting, including all bathroom paper towels. They recently added clean plastic film to their recyclable materials list and have three stations where employees can recycle bags and other clean film. Transit and bike commuting by employees is encouraged with a stipend for those who commute in ways other than personal vehicle.
Advice to others: “We are fortunate in King County to have so many outlets for recycling and reusing many different materials. We have reduced solid waste bills by over $100,000 per year by improving recycling and decreasing garbage at our multifamily properties all around King County.”
Somerset Gardens is a 198-unit apartment community in Bellevue. They join the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list this year. Somerset Gardens has worked with residents to significantly reduce waste and increase recycling in the community. All residents are provided a small container for food scraps along with biodegradable plastic bags. Collecting food scraps for composting not only reduced the amount of waste generated at the site, it improved their rodent management system, because food scraps are contained in smaller, more tightly closed containers than a communal, open lidded container. As a result, they have reduced garbage capacity by more than 20 percent and eliminated several weekly pick-ups. They have also increased recycling capacity by 300 percent and increased the size of their recycling containers, enabling them to recycle large items that would not previously fit.
Advice for others: “We were told that individuals needed to be provided a significant amount of training or education in order to comply with the requirements of recycling. We found that not to be so. Sending emails to residents with a simple explanation of the recycling program along with pictures and attaching those pictures to the bins was sufficient education for our residents to completely understand and conform to our recycling plan.”
Timberwood, an affordable housing community in Bellevue, is a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. In 2015, for the second time in five years, the apartment complex received an Enviro Star five-star certification. They recently added compost bins to the property, and held a resident training breakfast. They purchase items made from recyclable materials and that are readily recyclable whenever possible.
Advice for others: “Have regular employee meetings to discuss and get input from all staff members on new ideas of how to improve your program.”
Windsor Heights Apartments returns for its fourth year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. As a low income housing community in SeaTac with 326 on site families, they take advantage of their ability to encourage their residents to recycle through education and item exchange opportunities. Windsor Heights posts recycling notices around waste removal areas in multiple languages in order to communicate with all their diverse residents. They have also recently partnered with Mercy Housing, another affordable housing service, to expand their recycling and waste management outreach through multi-lingual classes and instructions.
Woodridge Park is a 201-unit single-family apartment community located in Burien. In 2013, finding their garbage bills significantly over budget and trash containers constantly overflowing, Woodridge Park turned to the King County Housing Authority and their local waste pick-up company for help reducing waste. By promoting recycling through fliers, door-to-door education, and community meetings, they were able to lower their garbage disposal costs by half in the last two years. Apartment staff continued to educate residents after the beginning of the recycling program, and have reached a consistent recycling rate.
Advice for others: “Do not be disappointed with the initial results. It takes time, continued support by all team members, and ongoing education. Find other partners in the waste industry and look at websites dedicated to recycling for ideas.”
Woodside East Apartments is a 244-unit apartment community in Bellevue and a first-time Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. Apartment staff distributed reusable bins for composting and compostable bin liners to all homes in the complex. They held a meeting with residents to explain the composting program and show the results, which inspired and motivated residents. Woodside also provides recycling for used computers, televisions, and other electronics; fluorescent bulbs; and batteries. Native plants are planted around the complex to improve water conservation.
Advice for others: “We attempted to do composting many years ago with little success. This time, we prepared residents in exciting and inviting ways. We have constant reminders and we discuss the program regularly with our guests and residents. Remind, remind, remind. If something is being spotlighted regularly, then people will try it.”
Special recognition: Patti, the Leasing Professional at Woodside East, takes the time to review the recycling program with every new resident and every renewal. She is instrumental to maintaining constant reminders and exposure to these programs.
Accents Et Cetera Gift Baskets returns to King County's Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for the seventh straight year. Located in Sammamish, this gift basket retailer is demonstrating that a commitment to sustainability can really pay off. By buying recycled glass vases instead of new products, and reusing boxes and packaging materials as much as possible, Accents Et Cetera Gift Baskets is finding that recycling and reusing saves money without affecting quality. In 2014, more than 10 percent of gifts purchased from Accents used gift boxes made from entirely recycled content, instead of the traditional baskets and cellophane.
Advice to others: “When it comes to recycling, keep adding practices. Start with the easiest ideas to have quick success.”
Eastside Community Aid Thrift Shop joins the Honor Roll in their fifth year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. As a thrift shop, they are accustomed to recycling, reusing, and repurposing materials in their daily routine. Everything sold at their shop is donated, including clothing, books, tools, and other materials. Donations that are unable to be sold are recycled or donated to organizations that can use them. Very little is thrown away. They recycle all plastic, cardboard, batteries, light bulbs, metals, eyeglasses, cell phones, hearing aids, and plastic bags. Eastside Community Aid and Thrift Shop also strives to reduce paper waste in their office and provides training to new employees on waste reduction and green IT practices.
Advice to others: “People should get more use out of their items instead of throwing them in a landfill and buying new. If they do buy new, old items should be recycled or donated. We have a shared trash and we see a lot of things in the trash that should have been recycled or still have lots of use in them and could have been donated. We have even in the past taken things out of the trash that people have thrown away and recycled or sold them at the shop.”
Epicurean Edge has a strong focus on recycling and waste prevention. They return to the list for their sixth consecutive year and are on the Honor Roll. The knife retailer based in Kirkland places a strong emphasis on being environmentally conscientious—from recycling where possible to composting shredded paper and using recycled packaging supplies. The company’s employees pride themselves on their “green” business practices. One of their unique programs is serving as a drop-off site for used packing supplies, both near employees’ homes and at the office. This allows them to keep packing peanuts and plastic bags out of the waste stream while saving on packaging costs.
PCC Natural Markets has been a King County Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling since the program began and is once again on the program’s Honor Roll. Waste management has been a focus of PCC Natural Markets since it was founded in 1953. Recycling has always been a part of PCC operations, and all stores have composted their organic waste since 1994. Recycling, composting and repurposing practices have been in place for many years in all locations. PCC gives a recycling training to all new employees, reduces packaging waste by using recyclable or compostable packaging, and donates excess food to food banks. Beginning at the Issaquah PCC in March 2013, PCC helped WISErg develop an onsite system that converts food scraps into a high-quality liquid organic fertilizer. The Harvester has been adopted at other PCC locations and in other grocery stores, allowing food retailers not only to create a new and useful product from food waste but also to generate data about their organic waste stream that can help them reduce food waste.
Advice for others: “Waste management practices should be revisited – and re-emphasized – on a regular basis, especially by a business that has a high level of interaction with the public and a significant number of new hires throughout the year. Even basic procedures such as proper waste separation can be forgotten or change over time.”
Simplicity Décor returns as a seven-time Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling, earning a spot on the Honor Roll once again. This home furnishing and gift store in downtown Kirkland continues its commitment to waste prevention, and chooses vendors who have similar recycling and green business practices. Employees are trained and highly involved in Simplicity Décor’s recycling efforts. This year, the company invested in cloud-based software to share documents online both internally and externally in order to decrease paper use.
Advice to others: “The initial set-up of the internal policy, as well as follow-up with staff, is important. Make sure employees understand why it is so important to follow the policies, for the business and for the individuals.”
Torklift Central returns for their sixth year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. Torklift Central is an installation, repair and manufacturing shop that specializes in custom trailer hitches and related RV towing equipment. Located in Kent, they have been in the towing and RV business since 1976. Excess materials that are generated during the production process such as copper, wire and steel, are all recycled in separate bins. This year, they began to use and recycle aluminum materials. Each year, Torklift Central receives over $2,000 for their recycled materials.
Advice to others: “Doing everything digitally helps reduce the amount of paper and ink used on a day-to-day basis.”
Special recognition: The accounting and purchasing department has reduced waste by switching to digital invoices, proofs and forms.
Blue Sky Cleaners, the first CO2 dry cleaner in King County, is all about sustainability. They have been operating with liquid CO2, defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as a zero waste cleaning technology, since 2008. In addition, they go the extra mile to prevent waste in their day-to-day business practices. Each team member, from the janitor to the owner, has a company email address, so that all communications can be electronic. All documents, including templates, training materials, and HR documents, are stored digitally. They recycle all waste and encourage customers to return hangers, used clothing, and poly bags. They email receipts and keep credit cards on file, reducing waste and hassle. In addition, they have a machine that laser measures the precise amount of biodegradable plastic needed to bag each cleaned garment.
Advice for others: “Look beyond the dollars and cents. Our investment in liquid CO2 machines was huge, but it allowed us to put our money where our mouth was in regard to being a truly sustainable, green dry cleaner. Not only has it paid off over the years, but the cleaning quality is actually better. We did it out of principle, which has helped shape our entire business model.”
Cartridge World, located in Issaquah, is a retailer specializing in eco-friendly ink and toner cartridges. This is their third year on the Best Workplaces for Waste Reduction and Recycling list. Plastic materials are kept out of the landfill by refilling the original or remanufactured cores and cartridges, and reusing as many parts as possible. They send all empty cartridges they are unable to use to another supplier that refills them or makes use of their parts. Cartridge World also encourages local schools to collect empty ink and toner cartridges. On Earth Day this year, they gave out cookies in exchange for used cartridges. They have a zero waste business policy, and a recycling coordinator who works with staff to communicate best practices and maintain motivation.
Advice to others: “Please don't throw away your empty ink and toner cartridges. Cartridge World stores will take them for you and recycle them. We are always happy when people show up at the store with bags of empties, telling us they didn’t know what to do with them but knew not to throw them away. Deep down, most people feel good about recycling.”
Fred Meyer in Kent returns for its second year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. Fred Meyer is a retail business that takes recycling seriously. They teach all employees to separate paper, plastic and biodegradables, and all employees over 18 are trained to operate the store’s cardboard and garbage balers. This year, Fred Meyer began to regularly bring in a scrap metal bin for all used fixtures, and set up organics recycling for the Garden Center. They also placed recycling containers at all work stations throughout the store. In addition to recycling and composting, they have a donation program in place that includes furniture, clothing, household and seasonal items, as well as daily food bank pickups.
Advice to others: “Educate! Educate! Educate! All it takes is one faithful person to make a difference. The world is growing at such an enormous rate; everyone needs to do their part to have a green environment not only for themselves, but for the world and the future of our children.”
Special recognition: Debbie Aragon and Nina Harris, recycling champions
Hot Off The Press returns as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling this year. Located in Redmond, they are a small, family-owned business that provides full service printing to local businesses as well as multi-national companies. Years ago, their goal was to reach 100 percent digital printing. They have since reached that goal, and as a result have eliminated the use of toxic chemicals associated with prepping and cleaning the presses. In addition, they have expanded their recycling program. They donate waste paper to non-profits, and take back packing materials for reuse. Hot Off The Press also has been able to reduce the amount of deliveries they receive per week without impacting their customers, and began using local couriers after an assessment showed them that local couriers had less of an environmental impact than using large national couriers.
Advice to others: "Being frugal is the best green business policy. Looking for ways to eliminate waste in purchasing reduces cost. Reducing waste during production reduces cost. Teaching customers how to do the same is just good business practice."
IKEA Seattle makes the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list in King County for the first time. The Renton location of this multinational household goods retailer is an enthusiastic contributor to the company’s sustainability goals. In 2015, all home furnishing materials sold at IKEA (including packaging) will be made from renewable, recyclable, or recycled materials. The company plans to produce as much renewable energy as they consume by 2020. At IKEA Seattle, they compact, bale and recycle all cardboard, plastic and paper waste, and 90 percent of the total waste generated at the store is diverted from landfills through recycling and reuse. Between September 2014 and February 2015, they recycled over 702 tons of waste!
Advice for others: “LED lightbulbs use 85 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 25,000 hours. Switching to LED can help you save energy and money on your electric bill. All faucets sold at IKEA save 40 to 50 percent more water than conventional faucets.”
Simplicity ABC returns for its fourth year as a King County Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling, following in the footsteps of its sister store, Simplicity Décor. Simplicity ABC is a children’s furnishings and toy store in downtown Kirkland and works closely with local vendors to reduce their carbon footprint. As the business has grown, Simplicity ABC has established relationships with business partners and developed policies to reduce and prevent unnecessary waste, including asking all vendors not to send catalogues and to send scanned rather than paper documents. Staff were trained to save and reuse packaging materials received from vendors. This practice saves the business money while creating a sense of pride and responsibility among team members. As a result, Simplicity ABC has reduced packaging costs to almost zero.
Advice to others: “We are focusing especially on our younger staff. Creating these policies is like planting a responsible seed in the next generation.”
Superior Seconds Gear Exchange is committed to encouraging individuals and families to recycle their gently used or unused sporting goods and outdoor gear, and join King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list. Superior Seconds sells pre-owned and used gear at their Issaquah store and online. At the store, they have a repair and maintenance shop that keeps good gear in use. Customers can consign their unwanted gear and use 70 percent of the proceeds for purchases in the store. They use only recycled shipping materials; electronic and word-of-mouth advertising; and donate all unsold items to charity. The store is completely furnished with used goods found online or in classified advertisements. Their goal is to provide a 100 percent recycled experience for consumers and to teach them that recycled goods can be in great shape at a great value.
Advice for others: “We have learned that customers truly appreciate knowing that they are shopping at a socially responsible business, and that having a strong recycling program and presence gains solid customer loyalty. Whether buying or selling with us, our customers feel their contribution to eco-friendly consumerism and are proud to tell their friends and neighbors.”
Special recognition: General Manager Geo Tamblyn and bike mechanics Alex Lowe and Joe Shedrock have a great eye for considering the potential of used goods in the repair shop. Sometimes a new chain and a good dousing of lubricant are enough to save a used bicycle for the enjoyment of its next owner. For bikes that are not re-saleable, due to a cracked frame or "taco-ed" wheel, all useable parts are salvaged to repair other bikes for sale or sold directly to customers as used goods.
Whole Foods Market Bellevue returns to the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for a fourth consecutive year. A specialty supermarket chain that promotes whole, unprocessed foods, they believe in caring for their communities and environment. In addition to recycling product packaging, Whole Foods Market Bellevue reduces paper waste by making it a policy to not send any flyers out through the mail. They have a dedicated team that works to ensure recycling and composting efficiencies are in place across the store, and even brought in an outside consultant to improve their green practices. The Bellevue location was the first Whole Foods to use a composting machine, partnering with Wiserg, a local green technology company that removes food waste and turns it into organic fertilizer.
Allyis makes King County's Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for the seventh year in a row. Specializing in technology development, professional staffing and managed team solutions for businesses, Allyis believes that environmental stewardship is a core responsibility of its people. The company continues its tradition of reducing waste, buying greener, buying local, recycling, and reducing consumption through employee education and communication, smart purchasing and process changes to create a greener business.
Advice to others: “Communication is key. Educating new employees of our paperless, recycling and consumption reduction practices as well as gentle signage reminders throughout the office has been important to ensuring we are all working together as a team to be a greener organization.”
Applus Technolgies returns for their seventh year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling, reclaiming their spot on the Honor Roll. The technology services and electronic solutions provider is headquartered regionally in Kent and has 16 worksites in King County. By increasing the amount of compostable and recyclable materials purchased, Applus emission testing stations have reduced waste to one container, and in some cases eliminated regular waste containers all together. All locations now use 100 percent sugar, wheat and/or straw paper for ecologically responsible printing. After purchasing a green printer made from recycled products for all locations last year, they invested in an environmentally friendly ColorQube technology for their copiers that uses wax instead of toner. Applus has committed to a minimum of 50 percent recycled content for products whenever possible. They also encourage sustainable practices by employees, through education and providing resources like reusable water bottles.
Advice to others: “Applus believes its leadership role as the vehicle emissions testing provider for communities across the U.S. should extend beyond contractual obligations to include proactive initiatives that positively impact our local communities. To this end, we sponsor charitable and environmentally focused events as well as industry and academic conferences on technologies and issues that impact air quality.”
Special recognition goes to: Kristine Schmidt, who heads the Applus recycling initiatives and the annual Applus Earth Day fundraiser, which raises money for the Arbor Day Foundation. Applus Technologies also thanks their emissions station recycling representatives: Diannia Anderson, James Nason, Sean Lewis, Christopher Brester, Roman Nedashkovskiy, Karen Yeager, Cristy Adams, Alan Hunter, Brady Busch, Dorren Churchill, John Naidas, Janene Laskowski, Pam Clark, Lori Pope, and William McKeever.
Chameleon Technologies, Inc., a small IT staffing firm located in Kirkland, returns to the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list for an eighth year. They have an ongoing effort to be more sustainable, and have set up “green business” policies and procedures in their office. Their newest endeavor is composting with biodegradable bags in the office kitchen. Chameleon employees met with an associate from the City of Kirkland to go over what items were appropriate to compost, strengthening their efforts to cut down on garbage.
Advice to others: “We spend a lot of time where we work. We think there is great value in doing our part to reduce the footprint we leave on this Earth.”
Magnitude Software (formerly Noetix Corporation) returns for the seventh year to the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list, reclaiming their spot on the program’s Honor Roll. The software company based in Redmond is celebrating the eighth anniversary of its “Green Committee,” which has made waste reduction a top priority within the company. Magnitude has an extensive recycling list, collecting all paper, plastic, glass and aluminum as well as batteries, plastic bags, cell phones and compact fluorescent light bulbs. They compost all food scraps, coffee grounds and filters, and corn-based plates, bowls and utensils. The Green Committee partners with the Events Committee to host zero waste company picnics. Through TerraCycle’s “Recycling Brigades program,” they recycle previously non-recyclable items such as coffee packaging, pens, dry-erase markers, corks and gum packaging. The office reuses all delivery boxes and packaging, and they encourage employees to bring in computer equipment and electronics to be recycled.
Advice to others: “If your business is just starting out, form a green committee within your company and come up with creative ideas on how to recycle and reuse everyday items. Contact your city’s recycling coordinator to take advantage of any recycling programs they have to offer. Implement an incentive program to help promote recycling and waste reduction. Start small and slowly add to your recycling program. You will be surprised just how easy it is to recycle and reduce your office waste. It’s never too late to create a green initiative for your company!”
Special recognition: Mark Verner, the Business and Operations Manager and the founder and steward of the company’s Green Committee for over a decade. Under his leadership, the company has changed their procurement procedures to use recycled items whenever possible and started collecting items that are difficult to recycle from employees. As a part of the Events Committee, Mark has also helped put on many company picnics and other zero waste events.
Microsoft returns for a fifth time on King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list, joining the Honor Roll this year. They continue to strive toward zero waste by expanding the trash sorting operation currently in place. This program diverts 90 percent of every trash bag’s contents. Microsoft includes trash collection in their plans for new office space renovation, and by creating zone trash collection rather than single-occupant trash collection, everyone in renovated office buildings have easy access to all three waste streams, which significantly reduces contamination. By right-sizing the collection of waste materials for different buildings on campus, Microsoft is able to save money, divert waste and create carbon savings with fewer service runs. They save an estimated $3,000 to $3,500 per month by converting four trash compactors to recycling or compost, and by minimizing bin sizes for collection wherever applicable.
Advice to others: “Microsoft has found that effective communication is the key to changing people’s behavior and keeping recyclables out of the landfill. This includes everything from signage clearly showing where items go to training the employees. We have concentrated on training the employees that work in the cafés about what items belong where.”
Pacific Software Publishing, Inc. returns for its seventh year as a Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling. This web and email hosting company prides itself on being as green as possible in its industry. PSPINC does this by adhering to green energy policies as well as preventing waste and encourages recycling at both the company and individual level. They have communal printers stocked with recycled paper and re-manufactured toner cartridges, with defaults set to double-sided printing. They also have water fountains in every kitchen along with utensils and dishes to avoid using disposable food beverage containers. In their recycling efforts, they have placed recycling bins at every workstation, and collect and recycle various items from clients and employees such as electronics, office supplies, light bulbs, toner cartridges, batteries, and packaging. They have reduced usage and ensure proper disposal of all hazardous materials used in their offices, such as paint and cleaning agents.
T-Mobile, USA, Inc.'s King County locations return for their fifth year as Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling and join the Honor Roll. T-Mobile has collected over 5 million used devices and accessories for recycling from customers and employees. They follow wireless industry benchmarks that have reduced device packaging and increased the recycled content of shopping bags. The carrier also engages in e-receipts and e-billing, which make it easier for customers and sales associates to find account information while saving over 19,000 trees since the start of the program. Purchasing reusable cups for employees at call centers, which has saved the company over $100,000 a year in purchasing costs.
Google is a multi-national business that specializes in Internet-related services and products. At their Kirkland office, reuse and recycling is constantly emphasized. Paper, glass, metals, Styrofoam, personal electronics and batteries are all recycled, and food and landscape waste are collected and composted offsite. They have also successfully incorporated paper towel waste from the restrooms into the compost stream. During the expansion of the company’s Kirkland campus, when trees were removed from the building site, their wood was salvaged for reuse in the new building. This effort resulted in more than 17,000 board feet of salvaged cottonwood, maple, fir, and other species for the building and furniture.
Landis+Gyr, a global provider of automated metering for utility companies, makes its third appearance on the Best Workplace for Waste Prevention and Recycling list this year. They are a certified Kirkland Green Business and have been recognized by Sustainable Seattle. Committed to reducing waste at their Kirkland office, Landis+Gyr has a waste management and minimization plan that helps them set goals and track waste reduction. Environmental awareness training is also provided for all employees, and employee events are held for Earth Day, World Environment Day and America Recycles Day. In the past year, they began weighing the number of pounds sent to the landfill every week, and fostered employee engagement to further reduce waste. Since 2008, they have reduced their waste by 39 percent, or 1,800 pounds per year; electronic waste by 43 percent; fuel use by 34 percent, or 1,300 gallons per year; water by 37 percent, or 26,180 gallons per year; and electricity use by 32 percent, or 27,800 kilowatt hours.
Advice to others: “Contact your city and county for resources and ideas. Contact the garbage and recycling company to learn what can and can’t be recycled or composted. We diverted plastic bags, stretch wrap and pallets from the trash by being educated about what we can recycle and how to properly recycle it. Work with the janitor to ensure trash, recycling and compost are placed in the appropriate container. Employee involvement is the key. Employees respond to seeing products that could have been made from our recycling and compostable materials, such as Cedar Grove compost and paper products made from recycled office paper.”
Special recognition: Warehouse Supervisor Mary Frank, who is instrumental in the company’s waste reduction programs. Mary manages the equipment refurbishment program, which tests parts of products and prepares them for reuse. She has also implemented practices for diverting waste, including customizing tool boards from repurposed foam; reusing shipping supplies and pallets; and repurposing pallet edging as tote holders, meter covers as cleaning receptacles, and foam as work surface protectors.
Port of Seattle – Sea-Tac International Airport returns to King County’s Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling list as an Honor Roll member. Sea-Tac International Airport has developed some of the nation’s leading waste reduction and recycling programs in the aviation industry. The airport coordinates a wide range of waste reduction programs which provide simple and clear opportunities to reduce landfill waste for over 30 million passengers annually, and 20,000 airport employees including concessions, TSA, janitorial staff, ground service, and cargo handlers. Since adopting its 2010 Solid Waste Management Plan, the airport has made significant progress in adding new containers, enhancing training and signage, offering incentives, exploring mixed waste processing, supporting durable and compostable service ware at some concessions, and expanding services for construction and demolition debris collection. In 2013, the airport launched a new program to capture liquids generated from its security check points as a result of TSA's ban on liquids over 5 ounces, which often end up contaminating recycling. Through this program, the airport captures 1 ton of liquid each month. In addition, they've increased annual food bank donations from airport concessionaires to a record high of over 35,000 pounds.
Advice to others: “Our program’s success stems from our ability to collaborate with our stakeholders and create a strong shared vision with our sustainability goals and initiatives. Continuous monitoring of all aspects of the waste minimization and recycling program is critical. We communicate with our businesses and tenants regularly through email, monthly staff meetings, and facility visits, because we recognize that face-to-face contact is the most effective way to develop and maintain those key relationships.”
Alaska Airlines joins the list of Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling for the first time in 2015. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air integrate sustainability into every piece of their mission to help people lead fuller lives through traveling. The company has green initiatives underway in the air as well as in the corporate offices, including mixed recycling and a new composting program. In 2014, the “In Flight” teams collected 2,200 tons of material for recycling, at a recycling rate of between 77 and 94 percent for different recyclables. All these efforts work toward the company’s goal of reducing energy consumption of their facilities by 15 percent compared to 2008 levels.
Advice for others: “Start small, test out a program, and get a quick win. Find good service providers that are collaborative and want to make it work for your business. Last but not least, any initiative must be important to the leaders of the business, and they need to vocalize it. Top down support will help it get off the ground.”
Special recognition goes to: Kathy Hues, Onboard Food and Beverage Specialist in the Catering division who worked with the inflight team to implement the onboard recycling program. She has also been instrumental in getting the composting pilot in the Corporate offices off the ground.
Updated: Apr. 13, 2016