Dumpster diving, trash talking and garbage games reduce waste by 175 tons

52 Boeing sites compete in 2019 Battle of the Buildings Solid Waste Challenge

October 03, 2019 in Our Environment

Boeing environmental scientist Stephanie Leeper reviews correct sorting of compostable trash with Tim Marilley, 747/767 program estimator, at the Everett, Wash. site.

Patrick Summers photo

Stephanie Leeper cares a lot about Boeing’s trash.

“People know I’m passionate about reducing the trash and waste we generate,” said Leeper, Environment, Health & Safety environmental engineer based in Everett, Wash.

It was a passion for conservation, and a creative approach to engaging employees, that environment leaders say helped place the Everett site among the winners in the 2019 Battle of the Buildings (BoB) Solid Waste Challenge.

Fifty-two Boeing sites took part in this year’s competition. Twenty sites reduced waste to landfill or waste to energy by double-digits, which helped bring the total reduction companywide to 10%. That’s 175 tons of trash – enough to fill a 747 or the equivalent of weekly trash from 10,000 homes – diverted from landfills, saving the company $34,000 in one month.

Two of the top-performing sites were in Washington State – Bellevue, which earned first-place gold; and Everett, taking second-place.

“These great ideas for reducing solid waste and engaging our teammates can be replicated across the company,” said Environment Director Steve Shestag. “This is the kind of passion and creativity we need throughout the year to meet the ambitious goals in our 2025 Environment Strategy.”

Several sites located in Washington earned honorable mentions for reducing waste by double-digit percentages, including sites in: Auburn; Seattle; Frederickson; North Boeing Field; South Park; and beyond.

“Fun competitions like BoB get employees thinking and taking action to reduce solid waste and do the right thing for the environment and for Boeing,” said Gary Londo, enterprise utilities and conservation manager in Facilities & Asset Management.

The Everett site chose a competition focus that helped employees learn and practice the correct way to sort and recycle trash. The activities included:

  • Table-top games to show the correct way to sort, recycle or compost different types of trash in site cafeterias.
  • Volunteers at waste collection bins to explain if trash could be composted, recycled or needed to be sent to landfill
  • Attending team meetings and emptying the nearest bag of trash onto a table to show missed opportunities for recycling or composting waste.

“We sparked a lot of good conversations about ways to better reduce waste,” Leeper said.

At Boeing’s Bellevue office, the BoB focus was also on informing employees about correct trash sorting, recycling and composting. The site invited a local composting company to set up a booth, answer questions and explain what happens to composted trash.

By Patrick Summers