For those in the private sector, desk-side paper recycling might seem like background noise. It's so deeply integrated into the daily workflow, and has been for years, it's given no second thought. But that hasn't been the case within the Columbia County Courthouse.
'Over the past year or so, I and one of the commissioners noticed a lot of office paper in the desk-side garbage cans,' said Roy Weedman, Columbia County's solid waste coordinator.
In a case where budget-breakdown inspires innovation, Columbia County government in October boosted its presence in the world of green, sustainable workplace initiatives by implementing desk-side recycling for its employees.
Weedman said there have already been quantifiable results. Over the first month there was a 10 percent reduction in garbage, and garbage services were trimmed from three days per week to two. By spring, Weedman is hoping to drop it down to once per week. 'If I could take that office paper out, I knew I could reduce the garbage count,' he said.
Weedman points out that a paper-recycling program had already been in place, though it required employees to deposit recyclable paper into several centralized containers. Other recyclable items - pop cans and bottles, cardboard, microwaveable lunch wrapping, etc. - were uniformly dumped into the garbage.
'It was weird when I got here and they were just recycling office paper,' said Weedman, who took the job at the county in 2009. The new desk-side bins cost $2,000 and were paid for out of the county's solid waste fund. Weedman said the program should pay for itself over two years based on savings from reduced garbage pick-up.
Historically, St. Helens has been a recycling leader, implementing the first commingled recycling program in the state in 1998, said Jason Hudson, site manager for Hudson Garbage Service in St. Helens. Today, Hudson estimates 90 percent participation in the curbside recycling program in St. Helens. He said recent rises factored into that number are likely attributable to the economy.
'Over the last three years, it has increased dramatically,' Hudson said. 'A lot of people have downsized their garbage, just because of the economy.'