In 2019, I was fortunate to be part of a group of VAST employees who developed a plan to implement recycling in the office. We had a desire not only to recycle, but also to reduce the carbon footprint of VAST and help the environment though waste reduction, recycling, energy conservation, and sustainability efforts. Through the determination of a handful of dedicated individuals in the office, the Green Team was born.
Throughout the year, the Green Team assessed the current state of VAST’s recycling efforts through Waste Audits and offered the employees of VAST opportunities to recycle rigids, fibers, batteries, and can returnables. The Waste Audits measured and projected the amount of recycling to expect each week. When the initial audit was done in January 2019, the team projected 10 pounds of material would be recycled each week. However, by the end of the year, the average weight of recycled materials had increased to around 50 pounds a week, which resulted in diverting over 60% of what would have been trash into recycling. The team placed bins for recycling in several places in the office to make recycling an easy task for all VAST employees, and we used the money collected from the can returnables to help fund the recycling efforts.
The Green Team held two internal fun events to promote recycling within the office, and also sponsored a guest speaker on recycling, Brad Austin, Director of Operations at the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority. The team took to heart the ‘reusable’ part of being green and purchased reusable dishware for the office, which greatly reduced the purchases and use of plastic utensils and paper plates.
While helping the environment is by far the biggest reward for our efforts, VAST was honored by the Marquette Beautification & Restoration Committee with the 2019 Public Art Award, due in part to the work of the Green Team. We were also pleased to be featured in a publication in the Mining Journal on our recycling efforts.
Recently someone asked me how I felt about the results of our efforts and getting this committee off the ground for the first year. I can only say how deeply pleased I am with the collaborations of the Green Team members in making it happen, the support from the VAST management team, and the green efforts of all VAST team members. I look forward to the efforts and results of our Green Team in 2020 and beyond!