Marking Earth Day with the “Pollution Solution”

As we celebrate Earth Day, Zayo has dedicated April to what we’re calling the “Pollution Solution”—a month of waste management education, events and engagement. It’s been estimated that 90% of the items in our landfills are recyclable or compostable. With the involvement of Zayo employees in Colorado and our other offices, we’re working to ensure all the right items go into the compost or recycling waste streams and stay out of our landfills.

What goes into what waste container? That’s not as simple as it may seem. Zayo employees recently had the opportunity to improve their knowledge with a waste quiz. Recycling the wrong items—including paper coffee cups, plastic bags and styrofoam—can contaminate the waste stream, actually sending more trash into the landfill. Quiz takers were rewarded with an insulated travel mug to help reduce their personal non-recyclable waste.

And how about those hard-to-recycle items? The sustainability Green Teams set up collection bins this month for electronics, including computers, old mobile phones, dated devices and lots of legacy cords. They’ll be taken to Boulder’s Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM) and then on to Denver’s Blue Star Recyclers where electronics can either be refurbished for re-use or disassembled and recycled properly.

Tours of Denver Blue Star Recyclers and Boulder Eco-Cycle gave Zayoites the opportunity to see single-stream recycling in action. “What a great opportunity! Not only was it very engaging, we walked away with knowledge that will help us to do our part in making a sustainable future,” said Chuck Williams, junior application developer.

“It was very informational and reinforced for me how important it is for everyone to make the switch to bring your own reusable bags to the store,” said Corinna Hammersley, director, People Ops. “If you DO end up with plastic bags, make sure they stay out of recycling bins! We saw firsthand how they gum up the threshers and have to be arduously removed by hand,” added James Kirby, application developer.

Later this month, volunteers will support the City of Boulder, rebuilding a trail at Foothills Community Park. “It’s a fun, hands-on way for our team to make a tangible difference in our community,” said Jenny Gerson, senior director, Sustainability & Strategy. “We have a great group of Green Team volunteers who get involved in initiatives and advocacy, recommending tips such as composting paper towels and giving up straws.”

“Individual efforts may seem small but can have a big impact in aggregate,” says Gerson. After the Green Team’s launch of composting and additional single-stream recycling, the Boulder office waste stream diversion rate increased from 20% to 49% by volume. With many new employees on board since that initial effort, Gerson and the Green Teams are working toward the City of Boulder diversion goal of 85% by the year 2025.

Zayo is also focused on sustainability at the operational level: purchasing office supplies that can re-used or are made from post-consumer recycled content, procuring 25% of the company’s total energy consumption from renewable sources of energy and focusing on conserving energy and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions by investing in energy efficiency initiatives across our operated facilities.