Newswise — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) received two awards from national agencies for its green buying practices and its composting and recycling program, the latest in a long list of honors the Laboratory has received for its environmental programs over the past several years.

Among the awards is a gold Green Buy Award from the DOE for the Laboratory’s green buying program in fiscal year 2016, the fourth such award the Laboratory has received in the past six years.PPPL received a silver award last year and a gold award in 2013 and in 2012.

It also received a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 Food Recovery Challenge Award for fiscal year 2015 for the Laboratory’s composting program.

“The awards are a recognition of PPPL’s sustained commitment to improving its environmental performance,” said Robert Sheneman, head of PPPL’s Environmental Services Division. “Purchasing environmentally-preferred products and diverting waste from landfills is only a small portion of our environmental stewardship program. Those things have really become a part of how we do business here at the Lab.”

PPPL received the award for making significant green purchases of 11 green products in six categories. These include bio-based cleaning products, recyclable office supplies, bio-based fuels for vehicles, green electronics, and green flooring and roofing. The cafeteria is required to serve locally-grown food and purchase green utensils and dining ware, and all of PPPL’s furniture purchases were green.

PPPL has received numerous awards for its environmental programs over the last several years. The Laboratory’s main office building, the Lyman Spitzer Building was U.S.-LEED Gold certified in 2011. PPPL received a DOE Federal Sustainability Award for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and was named an EPA Waste-Wise Federal Partner of the Year in 2012.

“We’re constantly looking at what we’re buying to make sure it’s green,” said Margaret Kevin-King, the buildings and grounds supervisor. “We look at that equipment, sanitary products, liners, bio-based products we use for cleaning.”

“I think we had something in every category they had,” said Mark Hughes, an environmental engineering assistant who compiled the statistics. “We did really well across the board.”

The EPA award for composting recognizes that PPPL composted 24 tons of waste in fiscal year 2015. PPPL composted or recycled 84 percent of all municipal solid waste and construction and demolition debris in fiscal year 2015, including 44 tons of paper, bottles or cans that were recycled.

Leanna Meyer, an environmental scientist at PPPL, noted that PPPL’s composting rate has gone down because the new contractor cannot collect paper goods and compostable plastic cups as the previous contractor did. PPPL has also had to curtail collections at sites outside the cafeteria because some people were throwing trash in the composting bins.

King and Meyer accepted the award in a Jan. 11 ceremony at the World Trade Center in New York.

“I think it’s a testament to people doing the right thing, going the extra mile and putting it in the right bin,” said Meyer. “We encourage people to compost their food waste and to drive the numbers up that way.”

PPPL, on Princeton University's Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit