Simple Change Reduces Plastic Use, Saves Money at OKC Zoo

By purchasing concentrated bleach in bulk and training its staff to dilute and refill existing bottles, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is saving more than $2,000 and keeping almost 500 single-use plastic containers out of landfills each year.

As part of a Zoo-wide effort to eliminate single-use plastics, Barry Downer, deputy director, identified bleach usage as an easy target for improvement. The Zoo safely uses bleach as a cleaner and disinfection in its animal habitats, plus, the education team uses it to ensure their facilities are germ-free. Annually, this translates to about 500 gallons of bleach usage.

Prior to the implementation of the new system, the Zoo purchased diluted bleach in gallon containers similar to what consumers find at the grocery store for home use. Each gallon cost $5.49.

After purchasing personal protective equipment and training staff on how to safely and effectively dilute more concentrated bleach in-house, the Zoo found a distributor to provide a 330-gallon container of concentrated bleach (effectively 660 gallons) and installed it in the warehouse. Now, when animal caretakers run out of bleach, they bring their empty containers back to the bleach exchange and take a pre-filled bottle to their departments. Each gallon now costs only $1.17.

When the big container has exhausted its supply, the distributor brings a new unit and takes the empty back for cleaning, inspection and re-use.

This year, the Zoo is implementing the same method with other disinfectants/cleaners and anticipates saving $2,700 and reducing single-use plastic containers by 570.

Plastic facts:

  • A single recycled plastic bottle saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for four hours. It also creates 20 percent less air pollution and 50 percent less water pollution than would be created when making a new bottle.
  • Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as it takes to burn it.
  • It only takes five recycled plastic bottles to make enough fiberfill to stuff a ski jacket.
  • In the United States, we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour – about 42,000 per minute or 695 per second.
Share |
Search the site