The policy states that "UCAR is committed to protecting the environment," and cites the goals of minimizing our waste stream, promoting the reduction of single occupant vehicle travel, purchasing energy-efficient and/or recycled products, and managing the facility settings in environmentally responsible ways.
Members of the Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC) are savoring the policy's adoption. The ESC has worked long and hard to see that environmentally sound decision-making is part of UCAR's official outlook. Otherwise, it can be too easy to put the environment after other concerns, particularly at those times when short-term pain is needed to ensure long-term fiscal and ecological gain.
Among the practical consequences of the policy are
The new policy was drafted by members of the in ESC in 1993 and went through an exhaustive review process to ensure that the goals and practices being mandated were realistic. Committee members from Contracts, FSS, and Health, Environment, and Safety Services worked with the rest of the ESC to craft the policy. "The policy seemed to be a long time in the making," says the ESC's Joanne Dunnebecke, "but it was important that senior management as well as all of the departments that will be affected took part in writing and revising it." Joanne gives special credit to Val Friesen (Finance and Administration) for shepherding the draft through the policy and procedure approval process that Val coordinates.
ESC members haven't been idle while waiting on the new policy to be finalized. Over the past year the group's Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Program has stepped up efforts to increase recycling options and awareness throughout UCAR. There are now around 50 local coordinators, led by Gaylynn Potemkin, who spearhead recycling publicity and logistics for their office areas. You may have noticed a forest-green placard on the door of your own group's coordinator.
These coordinators proved invaluable when composting came to local offices. After successful testing at ML, the program spread to nearly all UCAR sites last summer under the coordination of Eron Brennan. All groups at the Mesa and Foothills labs, UNAVCO, and UCAR North have had the option of keeping compost bins to be picked up daily. At first the compost went to a local farmer; from October through January it was taken to a site managed by the city of Boulder as part of a city-run experiment; now it's going to the Lost Antlers composting facility in Golden. Meanwhile, the ML and FL cafeterias have been sending remnants of meats, vegetables, fruits, and other items to the bears housed at the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Center .
The mainstays of our recycling program--mixed office paper, cans, bottles, and cardboard--continue to be picked up each day, with paper retrieved from deskside bins in each office. (Call custodial services, ext. 1138, if you need a deskside bin.) Results of a recent waste audit (see accompanying article) were heartening. Compared to a year ago, the amount of recyclable material thrown into the trash had dropped by more than 50%.
"Precycling" is another activity on the rise. By reducing the use of paper in the first place, resource consumption is cut at the source. For example, in moving to a weekly electronic format and a monthly print format, Staff Notes has reduced its paper needs by around 75%, or about 400,000 sheets per year. Similarly, the Scientific Computing Division has placed virtually all documentation on line and is working toward the elimination of most of its paper documents. Uncertainties remain in the amount of printing done on the receiving end and the amount of power used by computers.
Still, the results of the waste audit prove that progress is possible and that individual actions make a difference. With success evident on the office scale, ESP members are hoping that the new UCAR policy brings similar benefits on the scale of institutional actions that range from purchasing to disposing.
"Adoption of this policy," says Joanne, "sends an important message to UCAR staff and to the community. It says that this institution cares not only about atmospheric research but also about the health of the world in which we live." --BH