The City of Oak Ridge Stormwater Management team, a division of the Public Works Department, currently has two AmeriCorps members serving with them until June 2016. In addition to their duties as Stormwater Technicians, Ellen Comeau and Erin Kelbly have recently launched a new recycling initiative in the Central Services Complex (CSC) called COR Values: Recycling. COR Values: Recycling is an initiative the members created that aims to help the City of Oak Ridge government buildings become more sustainable. COR Values: Recycling is a pilot program in partnership with Waste Connections, Inc. The goals of COR Values: Recycling are to make recycling easier, provide recycling education, and to increase overall recycling levels.

Comeau and Kelbly began working on this program in September 2015. In the past few months, they have increased the amount of blue recycling bins in offices and break areas, designed informational posters, and posted new signs on the outside dumpsters and recycling containers. They also created decals for indoor recycling bins and lids. Additionally, they held presentations about the program for the different departments in the CSC and presented recycling pledge cards at Safety Meetings for employees to sign.

To measure the program’s progress, trash and recycling audits are conducted. The audits entail gathering either all of the trash, or all of the recycling, in the building to count the amount of items that were improperly disposed of. At the time of the program’s launch, the audits showed that roughly 40% of the materials in the trash bins could have been recycled.

In order to encourage employees to increase their recycling efforts, a rewards system, based on levels of improvement, was created. Each time CSC employees reduce the amount of recyclable materials in the trash by 10%, they earn a reward. So employees can stay updated with their progress, Recycling Progress charts are posted near the building’s time clocks. Earlier this month, their first goal was reached and Dunkin’ Donuts was provided to CSC employees.

Waste Connections Municipal Marketing Manager, Doug McGill, has been highly supportive of this program since he was contacted about it in September. McGill provided advice to the AmeriCorps members and offered to donate the reward for when the amount of recyclable materials found in the trash makes up less than 10%. The partnership with Waste Connections and Doug McGill has been greatly beneficial to the success of this program.

If you have any questions about the program or recycling in general, please send an email to stormwateroakridgetn@gmail.com. To find out about other initiatives the AmeriCorps members are involved with in Oak Ridge, like their Facebook page: AmeriCorps Stormwater Team of Oak Ridge https://www.facebook.com/healthywatersprogram.

For more information about the City of Oak Ridge, please visit the website at www.oakridgetn.gov.

Media contact: Nick Sisco at (865) 425-3546 or nsisco@oakridgetn.gov