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Turn on the Lights for the DOE
West Valley Nuclear Services Company, part of Washington Group International, manages and operates the WVDP. The Waste Minimization and Pollution Prevention Program is an integral part of the effort to educate and encourage employees to both minimize waste and prevent pollution, to protect the environment on a local and global scale, and for providing reports, both at the federal and state levels, on the amount of waste generated and minimized. In November 1999, the Secretary of the Department of Energy issued several national goals for all Department of Energy sites, including the reduction of all types of waste streams (radioactive, hazardous, industrial, and sanitary) through the 3R philosophy of reduce, reuse, and recycle, as well as conserving energy and buying recycled products.
Although the Waste Min/P2 Program had been in place since 1994, participation in the program by all employees was not clearly visible or seen as effective by the customer, even though many employees actually did contribute to minimizing waste streams in their daily work activities. Tracking and documenting of the various initiatives and activities was difficult: many employees simply did the work, but much of what was being done was not captured in the reports generated.
Cathy Atkinson was designated as the lead person for the Pollution Prevention Program and Chairperson of the P2 Committee, in 1999, which consisted of about 40 employee volunteers. Ms. Atkinson met with her DOE counterpart to discuss ways to meet the new goals. “We wanted to find ways to recognize employees for the good things they were doing, encourage them to do more, and have documentation to prove that we were reducing waste, et cetera, to meet our goals.”
It was determined that a group of volunteers headed by Ms. Atkinson would benchmark similar companies, both in the government and private sectors, to learn more about how they encouraged and recognized employees for helping companies meet their goals. The team of volunteers (about seven people) researched several companies, and also searched the Internet for information.