Nov. 15, 2012
Public Affairs Office
VICKSBURG, Miss.--ERDC Vicksburg’s recycling efforts, in recent years, have been limited to modest amounts of paper, scrap metal and wood, as well as a few smaller items, such as prescription bottles and eyeglass and products collected on an ad hoc basis by employees. The current Leadership Development Program (LDP) class hopes to change that with the launch of a new recycling initiative.
The mission of this effort is to promote a “reduce, reuse and recycle” environment for our workforce by encouraging everyone to reduce their environmental footprint both, professionally and personally.
“I support recycling for a lot of different reasons,” said ERDC Commander Col. Kevin Wilson, who challenged the LDP group to champion this effort. “It makes sense for the environment, and it makes good business sense. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do – plain and simple. I am tremendously impressed by the plan the LDP put together, they covered every detail.”
The initial stage of the effort will include expanded paper and scrap metal recycling and allow for recycling of a few new additions – aluminum cans, plastics, corrugated cardboards, electronics and printer cartridges. The proposal also calls for the donation of no longer needed IT equipment to the local school district through the Computers for Learning Program and the donation of no longer needed personal cell phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers. Additionally, there is a plan for concrete removal.
“Recycling is easy,” said Mariely Mejias, a research civil engineer in the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL) and a current LDP participant. “By just separating recyclable materials from other trash, ERDC could reduce our waste by half or more. Reducing our waste footprint and preserving our natural resources is a perfect example of how ERDC makes the world safer and better.
“ERDC is one of the largest employers in Vicksburg. Creating a culture of awareness of the importance of recycling will be a great contribution to our community,” said Mejias. “Hopefully, this initiative will stimulate the development of other recycling programs in the city of Vicksburg.”
Citing availability of receptacles as critical when it comes to fully engaging the workforce in the Recycling Initiative, the proposal includes paper-recycling bins in every office and copy room, recycling bins for plastic and aluminum in break rooms and major hallways, and recycling bins for printer cartridges and electronics in every copy room. Larger receptacles will be placed near ERDC’s gates, in central locations across the station and at the Information Technology Laboratory, as well as near laboratories or facilities with greater recycling needs.
“When we began to look into this, we discovered that Mississippi creates 13 million pounds of garbage per day – that’s enough to fill 550 football fields six feet deep – and 40-65 percent is recyclable,” said Devin Sham, a research mechanical engineer in GSL and another LDP participant. “There are so many benefits here. We see great potential to grow.”
Looking toward the future, the LDP group hopes to expand the effort, allowing for the collection of fluorescent bulbs, glass and white goods in addition to incorporating a hazardous waste disposal facility at ERDC and making mulch out of used wood construction material and pallets. The group also hopes to facilitate recycling at off-site test locations, such as Fort Polk, La., and spark environmental projects, such as composting.
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, as well as pollution abatement efforts. These efforts will include green initiatives, such as energy and water conservation, the implementation of motion sensor light switches and faucets and the investigation of alternate energy, such as solar panels and hybrid vehicles. Negotiations are expected to begin soon with Midd-West, which currently provides ERDC’s paper recycling, in hopes they will continue to collect paper bins in offices. Contracts will be given to provide for larger items.
“As a government organization and one of the largest employers in the local community, ERDC should be a leader and role model,” said Sham. “Recycling is an excellent way to show our community, youth and employees that we care about our environment, our community and our planet’s future.”