On your way to big meet­ing? Be sure to take out the trash

Some state work­ers will empty own cans to cut costs, in­crease re­cy­cling

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Lay­lan Copelin AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN STAFF

This should get state em­ploy­ees talk­ing trash.

Come Mon­day, about 20,000 state em­ploy­ees will be asked to start tak­ing out their own trash.

The new min­i­MAX pro­gram is de­signed to save money and in­crease re­cy­cling by re­plac­ing tra­di­tional waste­bas­kets with a one-gal­lon mini­trash box that will hang on the side of a larger re­cy­cling con­tainer.

The mini-bin is sup­posed to dis­cour­age em­ploy­ees from trash­ing what should be re­cy­cled. Em­ploy­ees also will be asked to empty their trash and re­cy­cling into cen­tral­ized bins in their work ar­eas.

“It makes you think of what you are throw­ing away,” said Dana Wil­liams, the state’s di­rec­tor of fa­cil­i­ties ser­vices. “Self-ser­vice also drives up re­cy­cling.”

At the same time, the Texas Fa­cil­i­ties Com­mis­sion is tran­si­tion­ing to day­time cus­to­dial crews in­stead of night­time clean­ing in state build­ings un­der its di­rec­tion.

To­gether, the changes are ex­pected to save more than $1 mil­lion a year. Cus­to­di­ans will spend more time clean­ing and less time emp­ty­ing trash. Also, the fa­cil­i­ties com­mis­sion staff ex­pects to cut util­ity bills by $500,000 be­cause clean­ing staff mem­bers won’t be turn­ing on lights at night.

Vac­u­um­ing and other dis­rup­tive tasks will be done im­me­di­ately be­fore or af­ter the work­day.

The waste­bas­kets of state em­ploy­ees are be­ing swapped out at night for the new min­i­MAX con­tain­ers, which cost, col­lec­tively, $150,000. The new con­tain­ers come with in­struc­tions, in­clud­ing fre­quently asked ques­tions.

The trash du­ties shouldn’t take any time out of an em­ployee’s work­day, ac­cord­ing to the hand­out.

“You can empty your bins when you get a drink, go to lunch, ex­it­ing the build­ing, or when­ever you need a stretch break,” ac­cord­ing to the hand­out. It also sug­gests how to keep the plas­tic lin­ers in place (binder clips are help­ful) and how to keep the mini-bin from tip­ping over the re­cy­cling con­tainer.

Not all state em­ploy­ees are part of the pro­gram.

Build­ings that house the Texas Work­force Com­mis­sion, the Texas Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, the Teacher Re­tire­ment Sys­tem, the Em­ployee Re­tire­ment Sys­tem and the Capi­tol are out­side the con­trol of the Texas Fa­cil­i­ties Com­mis­sion.

In other words, don’t ex­pect Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David De­whurst or House Speaker Joe Straus to be bag­ging their own trash any­time soon.

Larry Kolvo­ord

Cus­to­dian Wil­liam Miller Jr. dis­trib­utes some of the new re­cy­cling con­tain­ers and mini-trash bins Mon­day.

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