Increasing involvement in a Blue Grass worker-led recycling program is helping the environment and providing lasting benefits to organizers and participants.
“People say something to me or ask about the program all the time,” said Austin Salyer, environmental compliance specialist, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “I’ve had eight or 10 people tell me they’ve started recycling at home, too. Making that kind of difference for the project and for people is doubly rewarding.”
Aluminum-can recycling began at the Blue Grass plant in January 2022 when members of the Environmental Action Group Led by Employees, or EAGLE, Team kicked it off with a short-term goal to collect cans to benefit the Madison/Clark County Habitat for Humanity program. Salyer, EAGLE’s chairman, said group members decided last July to make it permanent.
According to Salyer, workers are turning in more than 1,000 cans a month at locations at the plant and the Richmond Mall, where Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass leases space for offices and training facilities.
With about 24 cans in a pound, according to industry trade group The Aluminum Association, the workers’ efforts have generated 500 pounds of cans that have been donated to the Habitat program. Salyer says helping the non-profit organization help others is just one more benefit.
Salyer said EAGLE members add collection sites based on employee requests. After a team member suggested it, organizers recently began using recyclable bags to make the program even more environmentally friendly.
“Protecting the environment is a key part of the mission at the plant,” said Salyer. “We recycle just about everything, from batteries and light bulbs to metals, so what we’re doing with can recycling is a natural extension of the waste minimization effort. And we’ll continue doing it until the end of work here.”