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ORAU collects nearly five tons of recyclables during annual Earth Day event

Collection event returned for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic

ORAU collects nearly five tons of recyclables during annual Earth Day event

ORAU’s Environmental, Safety and Health team collected nearly five tons of recyclable materials, including technotrash, batteries, paper for secure shredding and unused medications, during ORAU’s annual Earth Day recycling event last month. The event returned for the first time since being canceled the last two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—ORAU’s employees and retirees combined their efforts to preserve the earth’s natural resources during the company’s two-day Earth Day recycling event held last month. The event was held this year for the first time in two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the two-day event, held at ORAU’s South Campus location off Bethel Valley Road in Oak Ridge, ORAU’s Environmental, Safety and Health Office, with the help of individuals from across ORAU, accepted nearly five tons of reusable and recyclable materials from employees and retirees, including 6,549 pounds of technotrash, 150 pounds of batteries and 793 pounds of household donation items.

ORAU invited local vendors onsite during the event to assist with secure shredding of 1,800 pounds of paper and collecting 77 pounds of medication for disposal. The Michael Dunn Center performed onsite secure shredding; Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention of Anderson County and Oak Ridge Police Department collected the unused or unwanted medication as part of Operation Medicine Cabinet.

“This year, we thought it would be a great idea to collect donations for local nonprofit organizations within Oak Ridge to help us celebrate ORAU’s more than 75 years of being a part of the Oak Ridge community,” said Jennifer Clary, an ORAU Environment, Safety and Health specialist who organized this year’s event. “During the event, we were able to collect nearly 800 pounds of lightly used household items for donation to local nonprofits.”

The donations were collected for the Blossom Center for Childhood Excellence, a non-profit organization that partners with parents to provide excellent child-centered programs that are affordable and accessible seven days a week, and the Ecumenical Storehouse, an organization that collects, stores and distributes household items to assist people in need with setting up small living quarters.

The Earth Day event also was another step toward normalcy for ORAU employees after the pandemic.

“Earth Day was a huge success for us, not just for the good we did for the environment and our community but also for our efforts for employee engagement and outreach,” said Mark Berkheimer, director of ORAU’s ES&H Office. “With a large number of new employees, as well as the fact that a large number of our employees had not been onsite in a while, we wanted to give them an opportunity to get together and hopefully begin to rebuild some of the community and connectedness we may have lost over the last couple of years from working from home during the pandemic.”

ORAU hosts the Earth Day event to encourage employees to bring in unwanted items from home for recycling or reuse. Since 2010, ORAU employees have recycled more than 44 tons of material from their homes as part of the company’s Earth Day recycling and donation events.

As an organization—whose corporate office building in Oak Ridge was the first new, gold-level, LEED-certified office building in Tennessee—ORAU’s environmental management philosophy emphasizes sustainability through recycling, waste minimization, green purchasing and energy efficiency. Whether it means saving more than 125,000 pounds of materials annually from landfills or ensuring that hazardous waste is handled properly, ORAU is committed to incorporating environmental responsibility into our business strategies and day-to-day operations.

About ORAU

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 150 colleges and universities, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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