Almost 20 years of recycling makes a big difference

Posted: January 16, 2013 - 2:00pm

Thanks to a Y‑12 National Security Complex aluminum beverage can recycling program, more than 400 local organizations have received a $200 donation from the company since the program’s inception in 1994. Over the years, more than $81,600 from recycling revenue has been donated.

The most recent recipients are Tabitha’s Table, an ecumenical Oak Ridge food ministry that provides a hot meal weekly; Family Promise of Knoxville, a program for individuals facing homelessness for the first time in their lives; Sunshine Industries, a therapeutic recreation program for handicapped adults who live in Knox County; and People Promoting Animal Welfare (PPAW), an organization that operates a feline/canine adoption center and spay/neuter clinic in Greenback and offers low-income families affordable sterilization of cats and dogs.

Aluminum beverage can recycling at Y‑12 operates under Y‑12’s pollution prevention program, which is designed to comply with state and federal requirements. Formulated to reduce the generation and toxicity of Y‑12 wastes, the program is coordinated by Jan Jackson in the company’s Sustainability and Stewardship organization.

Workers are encouraged not only to place in recycle barrels aluminum beverage cans they use on the premises but also to bring can collections from home for deposit in large mesh trailers at various locations inside the plant. Members of Y‑12’s Facilities, Infrastructure and Services organization transport the cans periodically to an off-site scrap metal vendor, and proceeds are placed in a special account.

Twice a year, employees are asked to nominate deserving nonprofit charities and organizations. Typically, 30 or more organizations are nominated. Members of the aluminum beverage can committee meet to vote on the nominations, and in most instances four nominees are selected to receive a $200 donation. Checks are distributed in April, usually in conjunction with Earth Day, and in November, usually in conjunction with America Recycles Day.

“To see how grateful the coordinators of these organizations are is heartwarming. I am so proud to be a part of an organization that values giving back to the community,” Jackson said. “This program provides a wonderful opportunity to help those who are less fortunate while protecting the environment. These cans can really make a difference.”

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