Figures released this week reveal that Teignbridge Council recycles over 70% of its office waste following the start of a new waste management scheme in March 2008. The scheme saw the council get rid of individual staff bins in favour of communal recycling and waste bins for each of its teams, encouraging recycling and reducing waste.
Existing paper recycling bins remained, while other recycling bins which were previously available in only one location were placed in each department. This enabled staff to conveniently dispose of glass bottles and jars, tins and cans, plastic bottles, printer cartridges and batteries. Kitchens also saw the addition of new 'caddies' for food waste, thin card, and used paper towels and tissues. These caddies enable the Council to compost waste 'on-site', using a new miniature version of the 'In Vessel Composting' technology that deals with all of the food waste from around the district.
Results for 2008/09, the scheme's first full year of operation, have been tallied, and show the council recycling over 70% of its waste. Key results over a 12 month period include:
· Approximately 5.1 tonnes of food/kitchen waste has been composted.
· 1872kg of plastic cups have been recycled.
· Approximately 29 tonnes of paper recycled; which can save up to 203,000 gallons of water, 493 trees, 11,020 gallons of oil, 87 cubic yards of landfill space and 116,000 kilowatts of energy.
· 4.12 tonnes of cans, cardboard, plastic and glass has been recycled.
· Approximately 50 fluorescent light tubes have been recycled, which together contain enough mercury to pollute 1.5 million litres of water beyond the UK safe drinking level.
Cllr Gordon Hook, Teignbridge Executive Spokesperson for Environmental Services said:
"As a district Teignbridge has a household recycling rate of over 57%, placing it firmly in the national top-ten. As a council we're the first to encourage residents to recycle, but we realise that we must practice what we preach. That was the idea behind the separate waste system, and we're pleased to see such strong results from it.
"Recycling our office waste has many benefits, from environmental to financial, and we're even producing our own compost to use on the grounds. We're aiming to lead by example, and show our residents that we, like them, are more than willing to do our bit for the environment."
Envirowise; a government supported scheme which offers free, independent support to businesses to become more environmentally friendly, resource efficient and save money; states that approximately 70% of office waste is recyclable, but on average only 7.5% reaches a recycling facility.
Teignbridge's Forde House campus alone composts and recycles 70% of its waste without counting light tubes and IT equipment. It has recently also started to have larger items of office equipment sent for recycling instead of going to landfill, so its overall figure is expected to rise next year.