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Dumpster diving at Douglas Machine

Echo Press photo by Lowell Anderson Senior management at Douglas Machine in Alexandria did a "dumpster dive" Thursday to pick out all the recyclable materials that were thrown in the trash. Front to back are Craig McLain, Tom Peterman, Jon Ballou and Chris Haugen.

Last Thursday wasn't a typical day at the office for the senior management executives at Douglas Machine in Alexandria.

They were scrounging through the garbage.

But it was all for a good cause - Earth Day.

The "dumpster diving" activity focused on drawing attention to the effectiveness of the company's recycling program.

Trash collected during the week was dumped in a contained area of the parking lot and sorted through by Rick Paulsen, Darren Cook, Jon Ballou, Steve Black, Craig McLain, Tom Peterman and Chris Haugen.

They picked out recyclable items and placed them in pre-identified containers. The effort underscored the amount of recyclable materials that are placed in the trash.

Douglas Machine employees were also invited out for a "green treat" and to participate in a Douglas Environmental Responsibility Action Team (ERAT) trivia challenge to win "green" prizes.

Chartered in 2008, ERAT is an employee-driven, management-supported team focused on environmental awareness and education, recycling, source reduction and energy conservation.

The Earth Day activity last Thursday isn't the only time Douglas Machine has made a green effort. The company has a history of environmental stewardship dating back to its early years.

Being a good steward of the environment is included in one of the company's value statements: "Business activities must be characterized by respect for the domestic and global environment. We understand this to mean that business activities should promote sustainable development and avoid environmental degradation and waste of non-renewable resources. Our promise to you is that we will hold ourselves accountable for these values."

Jill Lahman, a member of ERAT, listed the team's other projects:

•Occupancy sensors were recently installed in the majority of conference rooms, restrooms, and the lunchroom of the Douglas Machine north campus. The sensors use "mu-technology," detecting both heat and motion.

•In March 2010, ERAT held a Collection Box Program to collect old inkjet cartridges, cell phones, PDAs and iPods. The items were sent to Recycling Association of Minnesota. Proceeds from the items went toward funding further programs at Recycling Associates of Minnesota.

•A Junk Mail Reduction Program was established in May 2009. In the first nine months of the program, 1,739 pieces of junk mail were collected. This is the equivalent of 609.25 pounds of junk mail. When a piece of junk mail is tossed into the junk mail bins located throughout its facilities, the company contacts the senders and requests that the individual's name is removed from the mailing list. All junk mail collected through this program is recycled.

•WACOSA, a central Minnesota recycling service, recycles Douglas Machine's cans, bottles, stretch film from pallets, loose plastic, film rolls, and shredded documents. Douglas Machine recycled almost 10 tons of paper alone in 2009.

•Collection point maps have been created and posted. These maps indicate the available recycling collection point areas in the company's north campus facility.

•An "energy robbers" team is focused on getting employees to shut down electronic devices when leaving for the day.

•Douglas Machine Inc. is officially recognized as an Energy Star Challenge Participant. The challenge is a national call to action to improve the energy efficiency of America's commercial and industrial buildings by 10 percent or more.

•ERAT members communicate upcoming ERAT events, results, fun facts, etc. on a regular basis. Information is communicated via the ERAT bulletin board, the Douglas Machine Intranet, e-mail, and a quarterly newsletter.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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