The city's environmental stewardship efforts have earned it a "Best Workplace for Recycling" honor by King County.
Bellevue was the only city on a list of 50 organizations recognized by the county's Solid Waste Division for their strong internal recycling programs, and for making recycling a priority.
"This is a nice honor and a great example of Bellevue's commitment to environmental stewardship," City Manager Steve Sarkozy said. "Our employees are helping lead the way and setting an example for others to follow."
To qualify as a Best Workplace for Recycling, organizations had to meet at least 10 criteria out of a list of 33 good recycling practices--choices that range from placing recycling bins by every desk, to collecting food scraps for on or off-site composting.
Bellevue began an in-house recycling campaign last year called "Bellevue Recycles @ Work" to ramp up recycling participation. The campaign focused on recycling, reducing waste and reusing office products and materials. To ensure the campaign was a success, the city designated a recycling coordinator, divided the city into teams to encourage competition, solicited a recycling steward for each team and set goals to track progress made by employees.
Elements of the campaign included placing recycling bins next to all workstations, printers, fax machines, copiers, and garbage cans and providing recycling guidelines with the campaign’s orientation materials.
In addition to recycling paper, plastic, and other common materials, the city also recycles wood pallets, plastic film and wrap, toner cartridges, scrap metal and electronics. The city purchases and uses recycled-content office products and practices waste reduction by using fewer resources wherever possible, such as saving paper by requiring double-sided printing of documents and encouraging employees to set smaller margins as a default.
Bellevue has also started recycling food scraps and food-soiled paper as an Environmental Stewardship pilot project. On St. Patrick's Day, small green buckets were placed in most kitchens at City Hall, with posters telling employees what could be recycled.
About 30 employee volunteers serve as floor stewards and empty the buckets into a bin at a loading dock twice a week. Regular pickups, along with the use of biodegradable bags inside the buckets, helps prevent odors. Cedar Grove Compost takes the food waste and food-soiled paper to its facility in Maple Valley, "cooks" it at over 130 degrees and turns it into compost sold at garden stores.
"Right now we’re recycling about 185 gallons of food and food-soiled paper a week," said Jennifer Kaufman, the city's recycling coordinator. "In the fall, when the city’s Facilities Department begins collecting the food waste and we add more containers, we expect that amount to double."
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