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Mark Freeman, senior manager of Microsoft Dining Services, and Mohan Reddy Guttapalem, Microsoft senior facilities manager, Puget Sound. (Microsoft Photo)
Mark Freeman, senior manager of Microsoft Dining Services, and Mohan Reddy Guttapalem, Microsoft senior facilities manager, Puget Sound. (Microsoft Photo)

The 44,000 employees at Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters campus went through a whopping 189 million pounds of food and packaging between July and December 2015. Even more impressive than employees’ appetites is the fact that the company managed to keep 99.5 percent of food and dining waste out of landfills.

Microsoft said Monday its headquarters has earned the gold level of Zero Waste Certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council for keeping 90 percent of food, office, and construction waste out of landfills. Microsoft says it is the first tech company in the country to obtain such an achievement.

Food waste is one of the biggest areas of emphasis in Microsoft’s green push. Microsoft says all food and ingredients arrive on campus in compostable or recyclable packaging, and meals are made to order to reduce packaging. Oil used to fry up meals is converted to biodiesel and all the tableware is made from plants.

Recycling and composting food and other materials got Microsoft most of the way to the certification and reusing office supplies put the company over the top. In 2016, Microsoft said it “recycled over 173,000 units and reused more than 95,000, avoiding nearly 3.5 million pounds of landfill waste.” That includes office supplies, as well as old furnishings, and computer equipment that is rebuilt and updated.

Microsoft has long held that technology can help preserve the environment and deal with threats like climate change. The company pledged to become carbon neutral back in 2012 and began charging its divisions a “carbon fee” based on their own carbon emissions. Microsoft said it has used the fees to invest in carbon offset projects focusing on things like reforestation, conservation, clean water, and clean energy.

Microsoft said it helped launch the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Climate Neutral Now initiative at a U.N. Climate Change Conference in Morocco earlier this month, which aims to make it easier for people to measure, reduce and offset emissions through an online cloud service built on Microsoft Azure.

“Our vision is to create a cloud that is trusted, a cloud that is responsible, and a cloud that is inclusive, a cloud for global good,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a recent white paper on the company’s carbon fee program. “Operating our business in a sustainable way is an important part of this vision. By sharing our experiences, we hope to spark conversations and provide lessons that we can all learn from.”

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