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GSA on DC's Styrofoam Ban

As the GSA National Capital Region (NCR) prepares to significantly increase recycling --as well as launch a new composting program-- the City of DC is doing its part to advance waste reduction by banning the use of styrofoam fast food containers. Styrofoam is not recyclable and doesn’t biodegrade in the composting process so when it comes into GSA’s facilities, we must send it to landfills.
 
DC Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill banning the use of styrofoam food containers and it goes into effect on January 1, 2016. Restaurants and food trucks alike will have to switch to recyclable or compostable food containers.
 
This bill comes on the heels of yet another environmental initiative imposed on DC shoppers in 2010, a disposable bag fee, charging shoppers 5 cents each for disposable paper or plastic carryout bags. The fee has generated about $2 million a year in revenue to fund river clean-up and protection projects, half the amount estimated according to experts and city officials. This equates to changed behavior, less bag usage and a positive impact for stores that now require less supply. As a result, officials are finding fewer bags floating in the environment and more importantly, out of waters flowing to the Anacostia River. Local governments in the DC area soon after adopted a bag tax. The new ban on styrofoam will most likely follow suit.
 
What does this mean for GSA as landlord to many of our Federal buildings in DC? GSA NCR is committed to supporting regional and local initiatives on sustainability. Our programs, including office waste recycling, composting, and construction/demolition debris recycling, help support existing local industries and foster creation of new ones.
 
What does this mean for you - vendor, manufacturer, tenant, and employee? Vendors providing services to GSA facilities need to demonstrate that they are aware of our green requirements, can comply with them and provide supporting documentation of their compliance. Manufacturers should demonstrate that their products qualify as green; meaning that they meet a range of sustainability criteria such as nontoxic, biodegradable, best-in-industry carbon footprints, resource-efficient, etc. Tenants should assess their own sustainability commitments (Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans) and follow-up with GSA to learn how our programs and operations can provide the support you need. In addition, take the lead in educating your workforce about the sustainability initiatives being advanced in your GSA facility such as recycling, composting, energy efficiency, and water conservation. As a federal employee, strive to understand the importance of sustainability in achieving a variety of other goals (fiscal responsibility, environmental protection, human health, community support) and participate.   
 
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Robin Snyder
& Phyllis Carr
11
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