Zero Waste for Green Space

By: J.D. Norton

On Earth Day in 2010, eBay, San Jose, launched a brand newwaste diversion sustainability program: Zero Waste for Green Space. The goal of this very ambitious go green project was to significantly increase eBay’s waste diversion rate by up to 95%, reduce our environmental impact on the planet, and be a much more environmentally friendly company. As we approach Earth Day 2011, we wanted to give you an update on the progress of this corporate green initiative over the past year!

The term “waste diversion” may be new to some, so think of this green initiative as recycling taken to an entirely new level. It’s not just about recycling, but more about keeping waste out of the landfill entirely. Waste diversion programs include the sorting of recyclables, compostable materials and waste that ends up in a landfill.

Sure, it’s a bit overwhelming at first, but just as anything else in life, you learn what goes where and it eventually becomes an eco-friendly habit. Color-coded signage, clear and informative communications, extensive custodial training, and an enthusiastic invitation for employee participation has helped to ensure the corporate green initiatives were easily understood and successful. It also helps that nearly all the cups on both eBay campuses are compostable, as well as the to-go containers from all three eBay cafeterias – even the ones that appear to be plastic. To further reduce eBay’s carbon footprint, we also compost the majority of our café waste on-site into a nutrient-rich soil amendment which is used by their landscapers around campus and even in the organic garden which grows produce used by chefs in the eBay Café.

From a baseline diversion rate in 2008 of 73.5%, the go green goal at program rollout was 95.5%. This past December, an unprecedented (and somewhat unexpected) waste diversion rate of 99% was achieved. This means that only 1% of what went into a trash can at both our San Jose eBay campuses ended up in a landfill.

eBay recognizes that the go green goal of a “zero waste” city, or world for that matter, is extremely demanding, and tackling waste diversion, as well as other environmental challenges, requires dedication and teamwork. It is our Work Place Resources team’s objective to incorporate environmentally friendly values in their day-to-day operations and, in some small way, be a part of the solution.

How to do you work to reduce your waste at work? Share your company’s or your own achievements for sustainability in the workplace!