Recycling plant preserves resources, plans for Earth Day

8 Mar 2012 | Lance Cpl. Paul Peterson

Recycling is more than environmentally friendly, it’s sound resource management. Managing resources is a must for military installations and with Earth Day approaching fast, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is hitting some impressive numbers thanks to recycling operations aboard the base.

“Based off the numbers from last year, we’re (recycling) about 350 tons of paper and cardboard per month,” said Clint Brown, a recycling specialist at MCB Camp Lejeune. The base’s recycling operations also handle plastics along with metals like copper, steel and aluminum, recycling around 3,240 tons of metal last year.

For all the success of 2011, recycling operations hold great promise for 2012. The amount of solid waste sent to the landfills aboard MCB Camp Lejeune has decreased since 2009.

“One of the reasons we are here is to conserve what is valuable landfill space,” said Brown. “We try to extend the life of the landfill as long as possible. It’s easier to deal with the wastes on the front end, than with it later.”

While recycling operations aboard the base preserve the landfill space reserved for other materials, operations still have to deal with the fact that MCB Camp Lejeune is under a lot of construction. Yet even with the construction, recycling operations look to be meeting the challenge.

“Since 2009, it looks like we’ve dropped off considerably the amount of solid waste that has gone into the landfill,” said Brown. “In 2009, it was 46,105 tons put through the landfill, where last year our records were showing about 30,878 tons.”

The money generated by recyclable materials pays for the operations of the recycling program. Additional funds are then put back into the base and help finance further pollution abatement and prevention efforts, stated Brown.

Earth Day 2012 kicks off April 22, and the base has several activities scheduled for the week leading up to the event. There will be an Earth Day Expo, with interactive displays covering everything from threatened species and cultural resources, to forest management and hazardous material turn in scheduled for April 18. Clean up projects will also target some of the base roads and waterways.

A “Clean Sweep” is scheduled for April 19, targeting Lyman Road. Additionally, the base has teamed up with the New River Water Way Stewards, White Oak River Keeper Alliance and the New River Foundation to coordinate the “Splash for Trash” project, which will allow volunteers to take the reins and clear some of the base waterways, April 20. 

The winners of an art contest at Brewster Middle School and Camp Lejeune High School will also be announced at the expo.

The base theme for this year’s Earth Day is “partnering for a greener future,” said Brown. As April 22 approaches, the base community is encouraged to look after the resources and environment that make up the more than 150,000 acres of MCB Camp Lejeune.

Base recycling will continue to do the same, and operations will continue to improve with the installation of a new bailer, stated Brown. The bailer will make the processing of paper and cardboard more efficient. 

The recycling operations on base look after the future of base resources, diverting material from the landfills and turning them to other uses. The Department of Defense goal is to divert 50 percent of solid waste by 2015. “Even if we are meeting our goals, we’re always looking to increase (diversion),” said Brown.

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