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Posted 7/12/2013

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ERDC-Vicksburg’s newly expanded recycling effort kicks off July 24 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration in the lobby of CHL. The event marks the beginning of stage one for the program, which will focus on placing “paper-only” recycling bins in each office or cubical. The bins will be collected daily by janitorial staff, a change from the previous method when recycled paper was only collected from centralized bins. Aluminum and plastic recycling bins will also be placed in designated areas over the next few months, as will large scale paper bins – locations will be marked with a “coming soon” sign – and centralized on-site dumpsters will be made available to drop-off recyclables from home.

The Computers for Learning Program, which allows for the donation of no-longer-needed IT equipment to the local school district, will also launch as part of stage one. Donation instructions will soon be available.

“Our main goal is to make recycling easy for employees,” said ERDC Recycle Team member Heather Theel. “We want to put sustainability into practice, and become a leader in this area within the community. In 1991, President George H. W. Bush signed Executive Order 12780 requiring federal agencies to promote cost-effective waste reduction and recycling programs, but we realized we could do more than that.”

In recent years ERDC-Vicksburg’s recycling efforts have been limited to modest amounts of paper, scrap metal and wood, as well as a few smaller items such as prescription bottles, eyeglasses, and products collected on an ad hoc basis by employees. The ERDC Recycle Team, made up of former Leadership Development Program (LDP) class members, plans to change that with this effort that has been years in the making. The team is placing a high emphasis on employee involvement, a fire they hoped to light by holding a slogan and logo branding competition for the green initiative.

There were 88 slogan entries and 16 logo entries in the competition and the winners, who were chosen by ERDC Commander Col. Kevin Wilson, will be announced at the kick-off celebration. Wilson is responsible for sparking the environmentally-friendly movement, a cause he is passionate about, and will officiate the kick-off celebration as one of his final duties before handing over the ERDC reigns in a July 25 change of command ceremony.

"ERDC's recycling program has served two purposes,” said Wilson.  “First, it's the right thing to do - recycling isn't just about material reuse, it's about changing how we think about the products we buy and how we manage our environment, how we interact.  The second part, and the thing I am most excited about, is that, through LDP, it brought a great group of young leaders together across ERDC to solve a challenging problem.  I have really enjoyed working with the LDP group - they inspire me."

All revenue generated from the initiative will be split between Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Accounts to fund groups such as Castle Club, Family Readiness and the WES Fitness Center, and pollution abatement efforts. As the initiative progresses, the team plans to expand recyclable materials to corrugated cardboards, electronics, printer cartridges, concrete, fluorescent bulbs, glass and white goods. They also hope to incorporate a hazardous waste disposal facility at ERDC and secure the ability to make mulch out of used wood construction material and pallets, as well as facilitate recycling at off-site test locations.  

ERDC-Vicksburg is poised to make a major change in its environmental footprint. But, despite the plans and efforts that have been made by the Recycle Team, they want to emphasize that there is only one way the initiative will succeed – with the participation and help of each and every ERDC team member.