Chatham County, NC Environmental Leadership Policy

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Chatham County, NC, US

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Type: Policy

Status: In effect

Source File: Click here


Purpose and background
In recognition of the continuing need to be environmentally responsible, and to demonstrate the commitment made by the Chatham County Board of Commissioners in the Resolution in Support of Chatham County Environmental Leadership of March 15, 1999, the Board further establishes an Environmental Leadership policy. This policy represents a philosophical and fiscal commitment to the acquisition and use of environmentally responsible products, the continuation of solid waste recycling programs, and the proper disposal of any solid waste generated in the provision of services to its citizens.

All county departments shall maximize opportunities to reduce the amount and toxicity of solid waste they generate, to recycle materials recoverable from their operations, to maximize the procurement of recycled products, and to conserve energy. Department Heads are asked to educate their employees about departmental recycling and waste reduction efforts.


A. Environmentally Responsible - products or product usage procedures which are acknowledged to have minimal impact on the environment. Such products should reduce environmental impact through their composition and/or recyclability.

B. Fiscally Responsible - The cost factor or purchase price for recycled products, or for more environmentally responsible items, should be consistent with a suggested variance of 10 - 15% above the market expense for similar non-recycled or less environmentally responsible items. Additional costs should be counter balanced by savings from improved usage procedures.

C. Recycled Materials - Products made with an identifiable percentage (1% - 100%) of post consumer material content or of discarded virgin materials salvaged from the industrial waste stream. High content recycled materials contain a minimum of 50% of post consumer material.

D. Waste Reduction - The act of avoiding, eliminating and reducing the amount of solid waste at the source of generation, at the point of usage and at the time of its discard.

Waste Reduction
All County employees are asked to reduce waste at the source. This means finding ways to prevent waste before it is created such as:

  • Employees are asked to use reusable mugs rather than disposable cups. The Waste Management Department will provide reusable mugs for any employee requesting them.
  • During County functions, when possible, all efforts shall be made to use reusable plates and utensils. Recycling containers shall be made available at County functions.
  • Use email where available to avoid using paper.
  • Use interoffice envelopes to transmit mail in lieu of non-reusable envelopes.
  • Save reusable paper and use the blank side for scratch paper or for printing rough drafts.
  • Reuse manila folders, brown envelopes and other types of paper where applicable.
  • Use routing slips when distributing memorandums and other informational materials to reduce the use of photocopies and envelopes or post them on the office bulletin board.


  • To encourage reduction of waste, all County Departments shall require two-sided copying on all documents whenever feasible. New photocopy machines shall have duplexing capabilities when feasible (cost not to exceed 5%).
  • All employees should exercise caution to avoid unnecessary printing or photocopying of printed materials


  • Employees are requested to participate in the County's internal office paper and aluminum can recycling program.
  • Employees are asked to follow the program guidelines as trash or improper materials discarded in the recycling containers create a contamination problem and decrease the value of the recycled material.


  • The County will seek to buy and use products needed for county services, which are made with recycled materials if the recycled items are reasonably competitive with non-recycled products (cost not to exceed 10 - 15%), and meet or exceed specifications and user required quality levels set forth by the County.
  • The Finance Department shall make every effort to identify products made from recycled materials that meet appropriate standards for use by County departments.
  • When purchases are necessary, strong consideration shall be given to durable items, items having minimal packaging, and items that are readily recycled when discarded.
  • A list of products available through the Finance Department shall be distributed to departments on an annual basis to increase awareness of opportunities to purchase recycled products. Employees are expected to try to purchase products for County use which contain recycled materials whenever such products meet the minimum standards for their particular function.

Recycled Paper

  • County Departments are directed to purchase and use recycled paper for all reports, memoranda, and other documents whenever possible.
  • The County will give special emphasis to products and materials made from post -consumer recycled materials.


  • Department Heads are advised that the purchase of some recycled products may exceed the costs of comparable non-recycled products. This factor alone should not determine whether a recycled product should be purchased although it should be a major factor in the decision. Department Heads should attempt to balance the benefits of recycling with the cost issues to determine which circumstances would best justify purchasing recycled products.
  • Generally, if the cost of the recycled product does not exceed the cost of the virgin product by more than 10 - 15%, departments are authorized to request that the recycled product be purchased. The Finance Office should determine final approvals.

Energy Conservation
All County Employees are encouraged to conserve energy in County buildings by:

  • Closing windows and doors during the summer cooling season and winter heating season in those areas that have mechanical cooling and heating.
  • Assuming responsibility for turning off personal computers (PC's) and other office equipment when not in use, and shutting off the lights when leaving a room.

Buildings and Grounds shall purchase energy efficient products and use energy conservation techniques in County buildings such as:

  • Interior lighting will be fluorescent whenever possible. New energy-saving fixtures, lamps and ballasts will be used to replace existing less efficient types, whenever economically feasible and appropriate. Exterior lighting will be high pressure sodium or metal halide, whenever possible, and will meet minimum current safety requirements.
  • Whenever it is economically feasible and a building is unoccupied, the temperature will be reduced.
  • Turning out lights when not in use
  • Using heating and cooling systems efficiently

Any county buildings built or substantially renovated should be built in the most environmentally sound way. This includes site planning, landscaping, and structure design which takes into account energy conservation. Energy efficient lighting, ventilation, heating, and cooling technologies should be considered.

Toxicity and Waste Reduction for the Chatham County Buildings and Grounds Program Chatham County shall have a commitment to minimizing the environmental impact of the Building and Grounds program. This commitment includes minimizing work place exposure to hazardous materials, achieving a cost savings by improving purchasing choices, and acquiring and using environmentally responsible products while maintaining Chatham County's custodial performance standard.


  • All solicitation of bids for products used by the Buildings and Grounds Department shall include procuring products that are less or non-toxic and take into account the following:
a. Have the fewest adverse health effects such as skin, eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation from toxic compounds
b. Contain the fewest chemicals that can enter the food chain when consumed by aquatic plants and animals
c. Contain the fewest volatile organic compounds (VOC's) that can escape during product use.
d. Avoid unnecessary additives such as fragrances and dyes
e. Reduce product packaging and use recovered materials when packaging is necessary. Buy more concentrated products that have lower packaging and shipping costs, lower cost per application costs, and less waste to recycle or dispose of. When using concentrates, the products should be packaged so that the user is not placed at a great risk for exposure.
(A Biodegradable Cleaners and Degreasers Product Attribute Matrix is available to compare the above attributes among products)


  • Buildings and Grounds shall review their operations to determine what procedures may be modified to minimize and/or eliminate the unnecessary use of any products that are not deemed to be environmentally responsible.
  • Employees shall use products according to their intended use.
  • Employees shall utilize all materials to their fullest extent before disposal.


  • Buildings and Grounds shall regularly review their waste products to determine if they are properly acquiring, using, and disposing of materials.
  • An effort shall be made to reuse or recycle unused products whenever possible.
  • All waste materials that cannot be reused or recycled shall be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner. In particular, hazardous waste products such as oil based paint, solvents, bleaches, and other hazardous cleaning products shall be disposed of properly.