How do they do that? Save money by recycling

Photo by Moria via Flickr

How do they do that? is a series for The Source that explores the technology that helps keep Metro running and passengers and other commuters moving. Some of it applies directly to the trains, buses and freeways and some of it runs in the background — invisible to nearly everyone but essential to mobility in our region.

How does Metro’s resource and energy conservation program save the agency $2 million per year?

In part it’s the little things that add up and Metro is constantly looking for more ways to conserve energy. Setting all of the agency’s multi-function photocopiers to double-sided printing, for example, is expected to save $20,000 annually on paper costs, at the same time it reduces the agency’s waste stream and conserves energy.

Metro also recycles a long list of items. In addition to being helpful to the environment, recycling and reselling can be revenue producing at a time when transit agencies are scrambling to balance budgets. Recycling of cardboard, paper, trash and aluminum cans from all facilities reduces landfill use, as well as landfill and recycling fees for Metro.

Rather than purchase or recycle new tires when they wear out, Metro now leases tires. Metro used to spend about $14,000 a year to dispose of used oil. Used oil is now recycled, as are plastics, metals and batteries.

Metro annually generates approximately $400,000 from the sale of scrap metal, which is distributed to markets within the U.S., as well as to countries such as Taiwan, Japan, China and South Korea. It further generates approximately $250,000 from the sale of surplus and obsolete bus and rail parts. Metro also recycles various other products, including used bus window guards and aluminum wheels.

A huge cost savings comes from the retrofit of buildings. For example, after making efficiency changes, Metro’s Gateway Headquarters in downtown Los Angeles logged a 41 percent cost savings in gas use, 15 percent savings in water use and six percent usage savings for electricity.

Metro is always looking for new ideas to decrease its impact on the environment. Any suggestions? Please respond below.

1 reply

  1. Subway escalators run continuously. Is there some way to turn them on and off only when someone approaches (with an electric eye)? Or is this technology not ready for prime time?