Original Date: 11/03/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Recycling Program
Oak Ridge’s Y-12 Plant presented a challenging situation for recycling because of its size (811 acres) and the possibility of radioactive material. In August 1992, the plant initiated the Y-12 Recycles program to investigate, educate, and create awareness about recycling. An investigation revealed that over 50% of the material sent to the landfill by Y-12 was recyclable. In 1993, Y-12 established a baseline and set a 20% reduction goal by 1999.
By 1995, Y-12 achieved a 25% reduction in landfill usage through its recycle program. Each building housed a mini-recycling center which focused on mixed paper, file folders, aluminum cans, toner cartridges, and corrugated cardboard for recycling. Although most of the collected material can be sold, aluminum and wood require special handling. Y-12 donated 98% of all the aluminum cans (approximately $41,000) to 205 local charities. In addition, the plant purchased a large tub grinder to allow the groundskeepers to mulch the collected wood.
The recycle program also features the Swap Shop which keeps an inventory list on excess furniture, tools, electrical equipment, computer hardware/software, and chemicals. Departments throughout Y-12 can avoid procurement costs by shopping from the Swap Shop. In 1995, Y-12 participated in 442 swaps with over $937,000 in avoided procurement costs. Many other methods reflect Y-12's commitment to recycling. The employees at the Y-12 garage created additional savings by establishing a loop program for replacement parts which ensures that all replaced cores are returned to the suppliers. The 13,000 tons of fly ash generated by the Steam Plant each year is now used by a local cement manufacturing facility.
Because of the effort and dedication of its employees, Y-12's recycling programs proved to be effective in minimizing waste. In 1996, the Plant was recognized for its recycling programs and received the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Environmental Award.
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