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Poor recycling habits consume base fund

Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction, and Camp Pendleton has a robust recycling program. However, it is important to recycle correctly in order for its benefits to be effective.

Currently, the man-hours that are used to extract trash from recycled products are excessive. Base’s Recycling Center spends approximately $78,000 each year sorting out contaminated recyclables.

“Contaminating the recyclables with trash hurts everyone,” said Charles P. Bradshaw, recycling program manager, Camp Pendleton Recycling Center, which produces one third of the Marine Corps’ recycling profits.

Department of Defense’s Qualified Recycling Program is allowed to generate revenue from the sale of recyclable materials and after paying overhead, the remaining revenue is used to fund projects that benefit Marines, sailors and the families that live on base.

Separating trash from recyclables reduces revenue. Base loses countless dollars each day by removing dirty diapers, dog waste, car batteries, wasted food, toys, furniture, clothes, tires and hazardous materials from recycling bins.

“Recycling is not just about saving money,” said Bradshaw. “The more we recycle the more natural resources and landfill space is saved.”

Five tons of trash enters the Base Recycling Center daily. Family Housing recently went from a 12-gallon separate-crate system, to a 96 gallon commingled system for paper, cans and bottles that allows residents to put all recyclables in one container.

“Family housing residents are not the only ones held responsible to recycle properly,” said Bradshaw. “Base work sections also contribute to this issue.”

Recycling in the workplace is required throughout Camp Pendleton. Not only is trash being thrown into recycle bins and dumpsters, but too many recyclables are going into the base landfills.

“Base officials are proud to have such a vigorous recycling program, but it’s important to recycle effectively,” said Bradshaw. “Recycling not only saves natural resources, but it reduces our need to exhaust environmental assets.”

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