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Keep Oklahoma Beautiful's Environmental Excellence Competition returns

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Dino Lalli and Jenifer Reynolds, hosts of Discover Oklahoma, cohosted our awards ceremony last year. Dino now serves as one of KOB's board members. |Photo Keep Oklahoma Beautiful / provided
  • Dino Lalli and Jenifer Reynolds, hosts of Discover Oklahoma, cohosted our awards ceremony last year. Dino now serves as one of KOB's board members. |Photo Keep Oklahoma Beautiful / provided

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, the state branch of Keep America Beautiful, was founded 51 years ago with a mission to empower residents to preserve and enhance the state’s natural beauty and its sustainable resources, said Keep Oklahoma Beautiful spokeswoman Natalie Sacket.

Community groups, businesses, nonprofits and other organizations that exemplify this mission can be nominated for Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s annual Environmental Excellence Competition through Aug. 8. Winners are announced at the organization’s Nov. 17 banquet.

The organization encourages hands-on engagement through programs like Great American Cleanup, America Recycles Day, community improvement workshops, End Litter Video Contest and its annual Environmental Excellence Competition.

“We celebrate innovative community efforts to uphold our mission,” Sacket said.

This year’s awards feature nine nomination categories: law enforcement, KOB youth awards, business, collegiate effort, K-12 educators/educational institutions, government programs, nonprofits, volunteer group and affiliate champion.

“The criteria for the awards include going above and beyond to keep Oklahoma clean and green,” Sacket said.

Last year, Covanta Energy Tulsa earned one of the competition’s highest honors, the Towering Spirit Award, for the second year.

Covanta Energy Tulsa specializes in sustainable waste management solutions.

“In 2014, our nomination and win were the result of a partnership Covanta formed with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics designed to help fight Oklahoma’s prescription drug abuse epidemic,” said Matt Newman, Covanta Tulsa director of business management.

Years ago, OBN Director Darrell Weaver formulated a plan to create secure drop boxes where residents could safely dispose of prescription medicines they no longer needed. The drop boxes could be placed at every police station in the state.

“We heard about this and thought, ‘Great, but what are they going to do with the drugs?’” Newman said. “So we ... offered to have the drugs brought under armed guard to Covanta, where we would throw them into our boilers for free. ... And we said, ‘Let’s put boxes in all 175 precincts.’”

Since the program’s summer 2012 launch, more than 100,000 pounds of unused medication has been destroyed.

In 2015, Covanta helped solve another environmental challenge: helping people recycle old-fashioned dial thermostats after companies like OG&E replaced them via free, energy-saving programs.

“Programs like Smart Hours are great for energy savings, but they inadvertently created the problem of tens of thousands of old thermostats, which contain mercury, going into our landfills,” Newman said.

Mercury exposure is tied to cognitive and neurological damage.

Covanta formed a partnership with Thermostat Recycling Corporation, Locke Supply and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

“Now every welcome packet from OG&E’s Smart Hours comes with information about safe recycling of old thermostats,” Newman said. “Locke Supply provides collection bins at its locations.”

Newman looks forward to Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s annual awards luncheon each year.

“Everyone is doing such good stuff all around the state,” he said. “It’s wonderful and inspirational to see so many great people doing really great things for the environment.”

Learn more at keepoklahomabeautiful.com/award-categories.

Print Headline: Beautiful calling, Nominations are now open for Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s annual Environmental Excellence Competition.

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