Trading Trash Cans for Compost Bins in San Jose

Lorin May


At eBay, we’ve always thought of ourselves as a unique company. We have the unique opportunity to connect buyers and sellers around the globe. We have the unique ability to support hundreds of thousands of small businesses. And we have the unique advantage of not having a traditional supply chain—no manufacturing facilities that produce goods, and no brick and mortar stores to sell them in. While that makes our impact lighter than some from an environmental perspective, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty more we can do to green our operations.

At our corporate headquarters In San Jose, the group that oversees facilities management has been quietly and conscientiously exploring all the ways we can reduce waste in our offices and around our campuses. On February 1, they’re rolling out a new “Zero Waste for Green Space” program, which could help us divert as much as 95% of our trash from going to a landfill.

As part of the program, they’ve installed new wet waste composters at both of our San Jose campuses. These new additions will not only minimize the volume of trash we generate but actually produce a nutrient-rich material that our landscaping crew can use as fertilizer. I had a chance to check one out last week, and it’s actually pretty amazing. Literally overnight, the machine turned piles of food scraps into a soil-like material that almost smelled good enough to eat. Almost…

The new program will also make it a lot easier for employees to do their part. Break rooms are being reconfigured, and trash cans at employee desks will be replaced with recycling and compost bins. Our friends at Creative Eco Catalysts helped us calculate that eBay employees worldwide could save more than 6,000 trees per year by recycling paper. By recycling cans and bottles, employees could save enough energy to run 5,000 ENERGY STAR refrigerators for a year. Talk about the power of collective action.