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PPPL wins three awards for its environmental programs

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has won two awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its 97 percent recycling rate and for its composting program, and has won a third award from the Green Electronics Council for its green electronics purchasing program. 

PPPL received a U.S. EPA 2017 Federal Green Challenge Regional Award and a U.S. EPA 2017 WasteWise Regional Award from the EPA Region 2, based in New York, for reducing waste and diverting waste from landfills in 2016 through its recycling and composting efforts.  The high recycling rate was largely due to PPPL recycling 98 percent of concrete, metal, and other materials removed during a building improvements project. Leanna Sullivan, PPPL’s acting environmental compliance officer, accepted the awards at a ceremony at the Region 2 headquarters in New York in April.

PPPL is converting the C-Site Motor Generator Building, which once housed giant motor generators that powered PPPL’s experiments decades ago, into technical shops through the Infrastructure Operational Improvements (IOI) project. To do that, contractors removed tons of concrete and metal that reinforced the floors and walls of the building. 

The IOI project recycled 3,453 tons of concrete and 201 tons of metal in fiscal year 2016, the year for which PPPL received the award. PPPL also recycled 69 percent of all solid waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill, including 28 tons of wood from tree removal, 19 tons of compost, and 41 tons of single stream recycling. 

“PPPL takes its responsibility to the environment seriously and we are proud that we were able to recycle most of the concrete debris from our improvement project,” said Rich Hawryluk, PPPL’s interim director. “We also applaud our employees for continuing to recycle electronics, papers, bottles, and cans, as well as to compost food from our cafeteria. This recognition is a tribute to the entire staff.”

The Laboratory also received a three-star 2018 EPEAT Purchaser Award from the Green Electronics Council in May for purchasing 150 green electronic products in fiscal year 2017, the fourth year in a row PPPL has received the award.  

In addition to purchasing green electronics, PPPL also recycled 24 tons of electronics and 248 pounds of toner and ink cartridges last year. PPPL also collected more than two tons of home electronics from employees in 2017 for UNICOR’s Federal Prisons Industries program. 

“The fact that we have year over year been recognized for this type of environmentally preferable purchasing means we are doing the right thing,” said Rob Sheneman, head of the Environmental Services Division. “It really does require a team effort among a bunch of different parts of the Laboratory to make it successful, and the criteria changes from year to year.” 

Sullivan, who oversees the program, echoed that point. “It’s definitely a collective effort across the Laboratory and we hope to continue the effort.” 

PPPL was one of more than a dozen U.S. Department of Energy winners and among more than 50 winners nationwide to receive the award. The list includes cities like Portland, Oregon, and Santa Monica, California, other federal agencies such as the U.S. General Services Administration, and companies such as The World Bank Group. Together, they saved more than $83 million over the lifetime of the products purchased and reduced greenhouse gases equivalent to removing 94,000 passenger cars from the road for a year, according to the Green Electronics Council. 

PPPL has received numerous awards for its environmental programs over the past several years, including a gold Green Buy Award from the DOE last year for its green buying program in fiscal year 2016. The Laboratory’s main office building, the Lyman Spitzer Building, was U.S.-LEED Gold certified in 2011. PPPL received a DOE Federal Sustainability Award for reducing greenhouse gas emission and was named a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Waste-Wise Federal Partner of the Year in 2012. 

PPPL’s sustainability efforts in 2016 had the following effects, according to PPPL’s Environmental Services Division:

  • More than 4,000 barrels of oil conserved 
  • More than 200,000 gallons of gas conserved 
  • Energy savings equivalent to 150 homes 
  • Gasoline savings equivalent to 500 passenger vehicles removed from the road

The Green Electronics Council estimates the green products PPPL purchased will have the following impact over their lifetime:  

  • Reduce the use of primary materials by 14 metric tons, the equivalent of the weight of three elephants.
  • Avoid disposing 130 kilograms of hazardous waste, equal to the weight of a refrigerator.
  • Eliminate 508 kilograms of solid waste, the equivalent of one household’s solid waste for three month. 
  • Avoid 88 kilograms of water pollution emissions. 

By purchasing electronic products that meet or exceed federal ENERGY STAR specifications, PPPL will use less energy to use the products over the products’ lifetime, thereby saving $4,901. According to the Green Electronics Council, using less energy will also have the following environmental effects: 

  • Save more than 47,000-kilowatt hours of electricity – enough to power four U.S. households as a year.
  • Reduce 8 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of taking six U.S. passengers cars off the road for a year. 

PPPL, on Princeton University's Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

U.S. Department of Energy
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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