Kitsap wins EPA award for eighth straight year

For the eighth consecutive year, Kitsap County has received a WasteWi$e Partner of the Year award from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The awards are given annually to corporations and municipalities that expend an extra environmental effort.

“We don’t take this for granted,” said WasteWi$e Coordinator Vicki Bushnell. “It feels good to get this recognition. We work hard on this all year, and to get this type of recognition feels like payback.”

While Kitsap has maintained enough of an innovation level to keep earning awards, it has become more competitive. For instance, the number of participants in the program is now 2,100 — nearly double what it was when Kitsap joined up.

“They have become a role model for other local governments,” said Lisa MacArthur, a manager in the Office of Air, Waste & Toxics at the U.S. EPA’s Region 10 office in Seattle. “The program’s community involvement includes providing presentations at workshops and technical assistance to cities, counties, and agencies both locally and regionally.”

The recycling program saved over $450,000 in 2007 and included paper products, tires, electronics, fluorescent tubes and other items from daily operations.

Road crews routinely reuse asphalt and road sand instead of paying disposal costs and then purchasing cost to buy new products.

The focus of the WasteWi$e Kitsap Program has expanded to include fuel and energy reduction initiatives, including outreach to county employees via the weekly employee newsletter, posters and an anti-idling policy, all in cooperation with a separate energy conservation committee.

Other waste-prevention efforts include the popular electronic Wa$te Exchange, which saved nearly $8,000 in 2007 by enabling departments to obtain surplus from other departments.

It expanded recently to include office furniture in addition to everyday office supplies.

Additionally, little things can mean a like no longer printing the employee phone directory, instead having it available on the Intranet page.

Also, the new “Kitsap 24/7” Web page, which enables residents to more easily find online choices for county-related business, saves citizens time and gas and ultimately as the choices expand, will reduce paper usage for the departments.

Bushnell said Kitsap is unique, as not all small counties have curb side recycling service.

And the local military presence cuts both ways: Many people who come to the area for the Navy need to be trained in ecological fine points, but take the knowledge with them when they leave.

“It’s a constant retraining process because we live in a community where people are always coming and going,” Bushnell said. “We never finish getting the message out.”

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