Lipton receives special visitor

Published 9:02 pm Friday, February 26, 2010

The Lipton Tea facility in Suffolk continues to receive national recognition for its environmental sustainability efforts.

The plant achieved zero-landfill status in September, meaning nothing from the facility goes into the landfill. Company officials shared the story of how it achieved the zero-landfill goal in the local schools and with other local businesses. This week, however, they got a much-anticipated visit from the nation’s capital.

Daniel Beard, the U.S. House of Representatives’ chief administrative officer, visited the facility Friday to learn more about how Lipton achieved its zero-landfill status. Beard is leader of the Green the Capitol Program, instituted by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.).

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The nation’s Capitol building is “trying to be a zero-waste facility,” said Beard during his Suffolk visit. “We’ve done some of that, but not to the extent [Lipton has].”

More than 7,000 employees work in the Capitol building, which encompasses about six million square feet of space. The building welcomes three million visitors a year and serves more than 230,000 meals per month from its cafeteria.

Already, the Capitol has banned Styrofoam and plastic from its cafeteria, has begun composting all its food service waste, and instituted vegetable-based utensils, cups and plates. It also has begun getting its electricity from wind power and its climate control energy from natural gas, Beard said.

“I think it’s absolutely impressive,” Beard said of the sustainability efforts at the Suffolk facility. He especially noted employee involvement and commitment of senior management as an integral part of the successful Lipton program.

“They are a leader in zero-waste,” Beard said. “We came to learn.”

Ted Narozny, plant manager at the West Washington Street facility, said he was honored when he learned Beard wanted to visit the facility.

“We were very excited to hear from Daniel Beard’s team,” Narozny said. “We thought it was a great way to recognize our employees here in Suffolk.”

The building achieved its zero-landfill goal by ramping up a recycling program, instituting a composting program and sending all trash that cannot be recycled or composted to the Southeastern Public Service Authority waste-to-energy facility in Portsmouth. It now recycles about 70 percent of its waste, composts about 22 percent and sends about 8 percent to the incinerator.