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RECYCLING: Plants Recovery: Just What The Doctor Ordered

While California's diversion mandate is causing some businesses to feel the pinch, it is prompting others to exercise some creativity. This summer, the California Integrated Waste Management Board(CIWMB), Sacramento, the Recycled Paper Coalition (RPC), Palo Alto, Calif., and San Francisco's Bank of America, unveiled their second "Model Green Building Project."

The project consists of a three-building office complex owned by Allstate in Glendale, Calif., where tenants, owners and managers have promised to recycle office paper and to purchase recycled office products. Hopes are high that the complex will serve as a prototype for other California office parks faced with the state's call for a 50 percent diversion of municipal waste by the year 2000.

"We know the only way we'll reach the state's goal is to promote markets for products made from recycled materials," said Wesley Chesbro, a waste board member. "As the companies here are learning, it makes good business sense to buy recycled."

The tenants in the Glendale office complex will recycle hundreds of tons of materials every year, according to Sue Compton, president of RSI Consulting Services, Pasadena, Calif., the project's organizer. "Recycling for businesses should always be a source of revenue, and buying office products made from recycled materials instead of their virgin counterparts also can be a source of cost savings for companies," she said.

The Allstate complex was selected because it housed approximately 100 tenant businesses, which fit into the project's financial scheme. Program participants include: Montgomery Ward, Zurich American Insurance, Royal Insurance, Thomas Moore and Associates, and Imperial Thrift. Combined, the companies boast more than 800 employees, who generate approximately three tons of wastepaper weekly.

RSI was chosen to organize the project based on its success with a similar program at the Warner Center business park in Woodland Hills, Calif. In 1995, the Woodland Hills model recycled 7,100 tons, achieved a 65 percent diversion rate and collected $1 million in recyclables revenue. Additionally, 63 percent of new products purchased by the tenant association members were recycled-content products, averaging a 12 percent savings over virgin products. The complex is working towards achieving 75 percent recycled content product purchases in 1996 - a goal that the CIWMB anticipates will be met.

The Glendale project was funded partially by the CIWMB which gave a grant of $10,000, and by RCP which added an additional $3,000. Further, CIWMB has approved $25,000 in contract funds to sponsor two more model green building projects in Southern California and the Central Valley area. The specific sites are expected to be chosen by early 1997.

Like the Glendale project, a complex with a minimum of 100 tenants, plus a significant anchor business, such as Allstate, will be sought by the committee. A high-profile company enhances the project's publicity and motivates other businesses to model it, which is a key to leveraging return on the investment made, said Lanny Clave-cilla, a CIWMB spokesperson.

At press time, the new projects were still in the request for proposal stage, reported Clavecilla. "The building management and owner shall endorse the projects enthusiastically, agree with the concept and our goals, and willingly adhere to all requirements of the project," he said.

These requirements include joining the RPC and encouraging other tenants to join; cooperating with promotional events; abiding by the contractor's recommendations, particularly if a change in haulers, recyclers or other services are necessary; and assisting the contractor and project staff in obtaining overall program cooperation as well as coalition membership from the tenants.

Joining the coalition requires that the members agree to purchase paper products with at least 20 percent post-consumer content, to operate a full-loop recycling system and to report their progress annually.

Selling building complexes on the project is not difficult, because the funding provides free services to set up the recycling system which ultimately will save them money. Additionally, the companies get positive publicity for participating.

For more information on the Model Green Building project, contact the CIWMB, 8800 Cal Center Drive, Sacramento, Calif. 95826. (916) 255-2296.