Orange Coast College’s Recycling Center is looking to be the first building in the world to hold three extensive environmental certifications.
On the heels of its recognition as a LEED-certified building, the renovated center recently became the first site in California to receive SITES v2 verification under new certification requirements and is looking to reach True Zero-Waste Certification in the months ahead.
The LEED certification recognizes the center’s energy efficiency and the SITES v2 certification focuses mainly on outside landscaping and water usage.
Reaching a True Zero-Waste Certification requires 90 percent or better diversion of waste. The only thing the Recycling Center always throws away is the plastic trash bags customers use to bring their recyclables in, according to Environmental and Sustainability Coordinator Mike Carey.
“Once we get that, we will be the first facility in the world to hold all three of those certifications,” Carey said.
The center is set on five acres and features two classrooms, organic garden beds with fruits, vegetables and soon will grow Milkweed which stimulates the monarch butterfly population.
The site also has offices, a conference room and men’s and women’s showers for employees to freshen up after shifts.
In October, employees and volunteers planted Orange County native flowers and plants in front of the Recycling Center facing Adams Avenue. It features all Southern California native plants such as coastal sage, desert willow and California wild roses.
The upgrades also help business bloom at the Recycling Center.
“In the old site, we only had eight parking spots over there to serve over 300 cars a day,” Carey said.
The updated center has 45 parking spaces which creates flexibility in customers. The upgrade has allowed the Recycling Center to sometimes reaching over 450 a day, according to Carey.
While working outside to sort and recycle materials to help the environment, inside the facility is also working to help the planet. The carpet is made out of recycled cans and bottles.
The site is sprinkled with structures and sculptures made by OCC structure and design students and a Japanese tea garden was made of reclaimed wood and stands near the garden beds. A metal Pete the Pirate stands guard in the front of the offices. He was made by students from scrap metals found in the recycling center.
Carey has been with OCC for 34 years. His love for recycling started as a young kid when he would walk around the Newport Dunes collecting trash and recycling.
The Recycling Center takes aluminum cans, plastic bottles, scrap metals and papers. Customers can also drop off E-waste such as computers and old cell phones.
The Recycling Center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday is open regular hours for donations only.