Tonawanda News

The Tonawandas

May 17, 2014

State report indicates green policies are working

Tonawanda News — New York state officials said a report released on Friday indicated that efforts to install green initiatives have led to considerable environmental gains. 

The report, called the "State Green Procurement and Agency Sustainability," states that the overall use of paper and amount of waste has been reduced with improved recycling rates and lower energy consumption of toxic chemicals. 

The study looked at practices in 2008 to 2009 and 2011 to 2012 in determining those numbers, including a 43 percent drop in paper, a 35 percent reduction in waste and a 56 percent recycling rate. The agencies also purchase only recycled paper and have nearly eliminated bottle water purchases, according to the report. The reduction of paper alone saved approximately $11 million statewide. 

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said the initiative stems from policy changes.  

"The various agencies are actively working to promote sustainability and environmental quality, including implementing better management practices to reduce waste and energy consumption," he said. 

State Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito, whose agency released the report, said that the savings alone are reason enough to continue the green policies. 

Overall, 85 percent of reporting state agencies now use green cleaning products, 80 percent have implemented policies to reduce energy use, and 79 percent have an office supply reuse program.

Claire L. Barnett, executive director, Healthy Schools Network, Inc., said the report's significance extends beyond state borders. 

"The agencies are saving money while reducing the environment and health impacts of their purchasing," she said. "Every school seeking cost-effective greener, healthier products should be calling for better access and information."

Destito said programs to reduce waste and improve energy efficiency in state operations are part of a larger strategy to protect resources, calling it a leadership issue that is promoting renewable energy. 

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