Beneficial Reuse & Recycling

Waste reduction, reuse and recycling

“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.

Coal Ash
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, a material that otherwise has to be mined or quarried. Coal combustion byproducts have been used for decades by states as a standard construction process when building 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 that 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:

  • Scrap metal and transformers: Although in some cases we can repurpose used transformers within the OG&E system, we often recycle the scrap metal from transformers, other equipment and facility maintenance projects. From 2007 through 2017, we’ve collected and recycled more than 35,000 tons of scrap metal and received more than $20 million for this activity. When establishing customer rates, the income from this activity is a benefit, because it reduces the costs included in the calculation of rates.
  • Paper, plastic and aluminum recycling at all our offices: We provide shred bins in our offices which to date has generated more than 1.4 million pounds of material. In 2016, we recycled more than 83 large shred bins of paper waste and eight pallets of electronic equipment from spring cleaning our corporate offices, and from this effort we donated approximately 150 boxes of office supplies to local schools.

Mercury Thermostats
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.

We also encourage our consumers to “Use less” through our many energy efficiency and energy education programs.


  • Corporate Stewardship Report

    Our commitment to corporate stewardship begins with the belief that we're only as strong as the communities we serve.

  • Waste Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Fact Sheet

    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.