Contact: Sila Manahane
By Sila Manahane, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii Public Affairs
PEARL HARBOR (NNS) - April 1 marked the beginning of Environmental Awareness Month, and Navy Region Hawaii's Recycling Program is a great example of how reducing recyclable materials ending up in local landfills on Oahu is mutually beneficial to the Navy and the state of Hawaii.
"We have made tremendous strides since inception in 1994, when the recycling program was run by Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR)," said Richard Vila, Naval Facilities Engineering (NAVFAC) Hawaii environmental protection specialist. "It has now grown into an efficient, self-sustaining program, with two convenient locations across Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH)."
Initially under MWR, the recycling program could only accept a limited supply of materials, such as paper and newspaper. Over time, control moved from MWR to the base's First Lieutenant Division, and then in 2005 to NAVFAC Hawaii. Since then, NAVFAC Hawaii has shaped and expanded the Navy Region Hawaii's Recycling Program into what it is today.
"We have two convenient recycling locations on JBPHH, one on the Pearl-side of the base and the other on the Hickam-side, which both accept a long list of items," said Vila. "We work with contractors to get the best deal we can or the materials, so that dollars made through recycling pays for the program's operation and the recapitalization of our equipment."
Recyclable items received by the program include: cardboard, wood, metals, white paper, newspapers/phone books, magazines, plastics and toner cartridges. Some items not accepted at the centers include, but are not limited to the following: pressurized cylinders, light bulbs, treated lumber, envelopes with plastic windows and food waste.
"When we get a lot of a certain commodity such as paper or cardboard we first have to bale it, then weigh and track it." said Vila. "We are busy baling various materials every day."
NAVFAC Hawaii has implemented a number of developments to the program over the years including the addition of a Redemption Center at the Hickam location on one end of Building 1715. The Redemption Center operates with a voucher system where the customer can recycle their HI-5 cans and bottles in exchange for cash at the Hickam Bowling Center.
Customers can also request special pickups for bulk recyclable items such as metal furniture and other household appliances not in use. In addition, military, Department of Defense (DoD) civilian, or contractor personnel may drop off their recyclables at either facility at their own convenience within the designated hours of operation.
Customers can also drop off plastic containers, glass bottles, aluminum cans, paper, and corrugated cardboard in designated 24-hour drop off bins at Buildings 159 and 1715.
"There is never a shortage in the supply of recyclable paper and cardboard," said Vila. "The annual report indicates we received, processed, and recycled 1.4 million pounds of cardboard in FY12. White paper places second at 736,000 pounds, which is equivalent to 368 small cars. However, the most valuable and profitable recycled goods are the ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
The discarded ferrous and non-ferrous metals are handled at the Pearl Harbor location. Out of all recyclable materials, metals reap the most benefits for the program both quantitative and monetarily. In fiscal year 2012 alone, the metals collected and sold amounted to 2.1 million pounds, which brought in $272,123.29 in support of the program.
The Navy Region Hawaii Recycling Program is an important way the service can contribute toward being good stewards of the environment and help work toward a sustainable future in Hawaii. With limited land resources, it is vital that everyone do their part to reduce waste being buried in local landfills. The Navy has made progressive steps toward achieving energy goals and will continue these recycling efforts wherever it can.