The Path To Zero-Waste

| Josh Henretig

zeroWhat does it take to get to zero waste? As reported on the blog in December, the dining facilities on Microsoft’s Puget Sound campus were certified by the Green Restaurant Organization for diverting 99 percent of food waste to recycling and compost. But we’re taking steps to reduce or divert all waste from our operations—from food to packaging to e-waste. This puts us on the path to diverting 90 percent or more of all waste, the industry defined benchmark for achieving Zero Waste.

Microsoft is the first corporate dining program to receive a three-star certification from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA) and is currently working toward a four-star certification, the GRA’s highest level of distinction. There are seven categories that factor into the certification: water efficiency, waste reduction, sustainable furniture, sustainable food, energy, disposables and chemical reduction. Microsoft’s dining team is currently working on all seven areas to improve its score.

It’s no secret that our campus is more than its cafeterias, and we’re working at diverting all of our waste through source reduction, recycling and composting across our Puget Sound campus. Aggregate waste can include everything from e-waste to wood pallets and used cooking oil to cardboard packaging—each of which require a very different approach to diversion. Our aggregate waste diversion is currently at an average of 85.6 percent, less than five percent from the 90 percent benchmark.

In September aggregate waste diversion spiked to 92 percent. The reason? A significant increase in e-waste due to PC recycling as our employee’s transition toward Windows 8 devices. While we expect this gain to be temporary for now, it’s a testament to the robust programs we have in place for recycling used devices. (You can read more about device recycling on our Greener IT Challenge website.)

While we still have progress to make before achieving the Zero Waste benchmark across our campus here in Puget Sound, we’re continuing to advance waste diversion at every opportunity. From compostable cutlery and better packaging to recycling devices, we’re on the path to Zero Waste.

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