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Environmental Excellence by Brattleboro Company

Governor’s Award to Omega Optical

Last month Omega Optical announced its official launch of a Sustainable Purchasing Program and described the company’s general waste-reducing practices and efforts, including a solid waste reduction program.  This program, which was introduced six years ago, consistently focuses on recycling and reusing materials within the company and throughout the community.

These extra efforts have not gone unnoticed.  On May 17, Omega was informed that they were chosen to receive the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.  The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources stated that the, “Omega Optical Solid Waste Reduction program stands out as a model that is an inspiration to all Vermonters to find effective approaches to conserve natural resources and energy, prevent pollution before it is generated, and reduce waste, thus safeguarding human health and the environment.”

The award will be presented to Omega Optical on Thursday, June 30, 2011 in the House Chamber of the State House in Montpelier at 3:00 p.m.

On Earth Week the company’s president announced the launching of their Sustainable Purchasing Program. The program is designed to radically reduce the negative environmental impact of the company’s business operations. To achieve sustainability Omega has adopted practices that will insure company productivity while reducing environmental impact over the long term. Founder and Technical Director of the 40 year old company, Johnson says, “It is counter-productive for company practices to undermine it’s physical and social system of support or to deplete its resources.” According to Peg Eves, Resource Recovery Manager at Omega, that is exactly what companies have done since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

Assistant Director of the Northeast Recycling Council, Maryann Remolar, gave a presentation to the company’s environmental committee to provide guidance and definition for the new program.  “Having the input of a specialist saved us the challenge of reinventing the wheel and helped us to avoid pitfalls,” says Eves.

Now, in the first phase of it’s Sustainable Purchasing Program, the company is focusing on it’s own shipping procedures with a goal to reduce waste and eliminate non- biodegradable and toxic packaging materials. Detailed research was undertaken by a three-person core group and an audit of shipping practices was done.

Omega already has a six-year-old solid waste reduction program that involves  rigorous, ever-expanding recycling and reuse activity.  The Resource Recovery program maintains a registry of users who are on the watch for used materials. The company also  posts  all used materials on the Vermont Business Materials Exchange (www.VBMX.org) a website that hosts the exchange of used business materials. The company maintains a holding facility for non-recyclable materials. “ We have never thought that sending used resources to the landfill was a good idea. We make every effort to avoid the practice,” says  Johnson.

For decades consumers have been saddled with extravagant supplier packaging . With little choice companies receiving hundreds of pounds of the stuff annually have historically sent the bulk of the burden to a landfill. Omega retains about 75% of this non-recyclable material. “Even with our listings and community of users the stuff flows a lt faster than it goes out. With material constantly flowing in and piling up the need for a counter action is obvious. The company sees the SPP as the best means for this correction by enforcing sustainable packaging guidelines with their suppliers. Through a company’s suppliers producers will begin to get the message that a movement is afoot for major change.

Omega has begun looking into the contents and manufacturing  processes of  products it purchases and has established buy-recycled standards.  Among other  protocols the company has established a designated budget for recycled-content products.

Green Energy Times wants to congratulate such a fine company that is indeed a great example to follow!

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