Microsoft Touts 'Zero Waste' Campus

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Microsoft's Redmond, Wash. campus has 33 cafes, 32 "espresso cafes," and more than 500 kitchenettes. With all those dining food and drink options and 44,000 employees on campus, one might assume that Microsoft is sending huge amounts of waste to landfills. Not so.

The software giant on Monday announced that its Redmond campus has received the US Zero Waste Business Council's highest certification, the first technology company in the country to achieve this benchmark. The Gold Level of Zero Waste Certification recognizes facilities that divert at least 90 percent of food, office, and construction waste away from landfills, something Microsoft accomplishes via employee-driven reuse, recycling, and composting programs as well as sustainable community partnerships.

Between July and December of 2015, 189 million pounds of food, packaging, and other dining-related items went through Microsoft's Redmond campus. But 99.5 percent never made it to a landfill, the company said.

"All food used in the kitchens arrives in compostable or recyclable packaging," Microsoft Senior Director Susan Wagner wrote in the announcement. "To reduce packaging and create less waste, we cook foods from scratch, make meals to order in most cafés, and grow some of our own greens in hydroponic urban farms on campus. Thousands of gallons of frying oil a week are converted into biodiesel by local recyclers. Condiment packets are compostable, and 100 percent of our tableware is made from plants. We test all new dining products to verify that they are biodegradable."

Plus: "Employees use bins to segregate standard trash such as cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles, compostables, office paper, and so on. Specific programs recycle specialty items, such as cardboard, shredded confidential materials, electronics (e.g., PCs), wooden pallets, carpets, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, and more," Wagner added.

Microsoft is now planning to expand the waste diversion program it uses in Redmond to other facilities around the world.

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