“Reduce, reuse, recycle” is a familiar phrase when discussing environmental impact—and at OG&E, we apply these principals in both big and small ways.
Our continuous efforts to reduce our corporate footprint include re-purposing wooden distribution poles, selling byproducts for beneficial reuse and recycling or reusing office waste such as paper, aluminum, plastic and office products.
OG&E’s largest process waste stream is the byproduct of coal combustion, a reusable material in construction projects for concrete and in road base construction. These coal combustion products can replace material such as Portland cement, which is virgin material that has to be mined or quarried. The use of coal combustion byproducts is a standard construction process that states have used for decades to build infrastructure. In fact, the use of these byproducts is a criterion for the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program which encourages sustainable construction practices for green buildings.
We currently recover more than 81 percent of our ash to sell to the concrete and cement industries, and in the last five years we’ve diverted about 1.5 million tons of ash from landfills. Our ash has been used in many state and county road constructions projects—and very recently was repurposed for the construction of the I-40 Crosstown Expressway, a major artery through Oklahoma City. Using ash in this way also helps manufacturers minimize their impact on the environment by avoiding the need to extract and process other natural resources.
Wood Poles and Pallets
OG&E’s second largest process waste stream is the wood waste generated from replacing wooden transmission and distribution poles, pallets and distribution wire spools. This “waste” also is a reusable product for construction and landscaping projects.
To date, we’ve avoided sending approximately 902 tons of wood poles, pallets and cable reels to landfills. About 54 percent of our waste distribution poles have been repurposed into items which include landscape timbers, side rails for hiking trail paths, retaining walls, mulch and other products.
Scrap Metal, Paper, Plastic and Aluminum
Corporate wide, we have numerous opportunities and efforts to recycle and reuse the waste we generate and we encourage our employees to use less. Some of these include the following:
Recently, we partnered with the state and some Oklahoma businesses to help our customers recycle old, potentially mercury-containing thermostats. Some older home’s thermostats contain mercury. As we work to install communicating thermostats in the homes of customers participating in our SmartHours program, we make these customers aware of the acclaimed Oklahoma Mercury Thermostat Recycling Initiative, a partnership between Covanta Tulsa, Locke Supply and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ).
This initiative provides a convenient way to responsibly recycle mercury-containing thermostats in Oklahoma. Each customer who receives a SmartTemp thermostat from our SmartHours program also receives a packet with a flyer with information about the initiative. To date, we have provided close to 10,000 flyers to customers.
We also encourage our consumers to “Use less” through our many energy efficiency and energy education programs.
Our commitment to corporate stewardship begins with the belief that we're only as strong as the communities we serve.
We practice smart waste management in order to minimize environmental impact, encourage renewable resource development and promote sustainability initiatives while providing affordable and reliable electricity.