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Recycling & Waste Minimization


The environmental impacts related to solid waste management in the USDA Headquarters Complex are significant considering both facilities hold approximately 7,000 employees and manage a cafeteria that is open to the public throughout the year. The Headquarters Recycling and Waste Minimization program is working to eliminate these impacts.

Our Objectives

Reduce, re-use, & recycle waste at the Headquarters Complex (South Building and Whitten Building) through waste minimization, product substitution, and recycling/composting practices.

Our Goals

Increase Waste Diversion Rate to over 75% through increase the number of commodities recycled and increased employee awareness


HQ Recycling & Waste Minimization Program consists the following in priority order: (1) minimizing waste whenever possible, (2) Re-use of materials, (3) recycling/composting materials, and (4) disposal.

HQ's has made significant progress since FY2005 to improve the diversion rates and awareness in the Headquarters Complex in support of Executive Order 13514"Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy and Transportation Management" including:

  • Conduct yearly Trash Sorts 
  • Provide yearly training for the Janitorial Staff.
  • Installed New Recycle/Compost Collection Containers/Stations
  • Held Waste Minimization/Recycle Green Team Meetings
  • Prepared EMS document on Recycling and Waste Minimization, including brochure
  • Hold yearly America Recycles Day events in November
  • Implemented Battery and Personal Electronic Recycling Program
  • Implemented use of Clearstream exterior recycle containers during tourist season
  • Implemented a compostable waste diversion program.  The program is now diverting over 50 tons per year of compostable waste.
  • Reduced trash picks at facility from 5 pickups per week to 2 on average. This reduced the amount of round trips by a diesel truck by 150 per year.
  • Made numerous presentations on USDA HQ Waste Minimization and Recycle Program to various Departments
  • The installation of BigBelly Solar Trash Compactors

Overall, the Headquarters continues to see reductions in the amount of waste generated and increases in both or recycling and waste diversion rates. In FY 2005, USDA disposed of over 1200 tons of trash. In FY 2013, the amount of trash being disposed of was reduced to less than 440 tons.



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