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Microsoft Nears Zero-Waste Goal in Dining Facilities

Microsoft now diverts 99 percent of the food waste generated at its Redmond, Washington campus, which employs more than 50,000 people, to recycling and compost.

The company’s near zero-waste achievement was reached by shifting its tableware to PLA plastics, which decompose in 60 days; administering robust recycling programs; and working to use more of each food item to prevent waste, Microsoft said.

Microsoft also worked with local partners, such as Cedar Grove Composting and product manufacturers, to ensure the products used in its dining facilities can be recycled and composted in its region.

The sheer scale of Microsoft’s facilities has inadvertently helped expand the market for sustainable dining products, such as biodegradable coffee spoons that don’t melt, the company said.

Microsoft’s effort has helped it reach certification from the Green Restaurant Association, a national organization founded in 1990 to provide cost-effective means for restaurants, manufacturers, distributors and consumers to become more environmentally responsible.

GRA’s certification system is based on seven criteria: water efficiency, waste reductions and recycling, sustainable furnishing and building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction. Microsoft is the first corporate dining program to receive the three-star certification and is working towards four stars, the company said.

The company has taken steps to reduce waste and use alternative energy sources in others parts of its business. It plans to power its data center research center in Cheyenne, Wyoming with fuel cells.

Microsoft also met its target of reducing carbon intensity 30 percent over 2007 levels, the company reported in its fiscal year 2012 sustainability report. The report, which covers the company’s operations from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, says that Microsoft met the goal with a mix of energy efficiency measures, investments in renewable energy and carbon reduction projects that were externally verified.

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