MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Our lives are filled with trash. It can’t be helped; it’s all around us. Everything we do, from preparing food to opening our mail, generates trash.
The average American produces about 4.4 pounds of garbage a day. That’s 29 pounds per week and 1,600 pounds in a year, according to the Environment Protection Agency. Less than two percent of the total waste stream in the United States is recycled.
Not all garbage needs to find its way to the landfill. Many of the products we mindlessly toss in the trash container can be reused or recycled, saving precious money and resources.
The Combat Center’s Qualified Recycle Program collects recyclable materials from areas around the Combat Center. Items are collected from housing communities, office spaces and bachelor living quarters.
Center personnel are provided containers to facilitate the first step in the recycle process, separating recyclable materials from actual trash.
Eager recyclers can further separate their salvage into groups of like items; #1 plastic, soda and water bottles, anything with a California Recycle Value; #2 plastic, color bottles like shampoo and detergent and clear or translucent plastics like milk and water gallon jugs; aluminum cans; glass; and paper products.
The QRP will accept most types of paper products, including used, greasy pizza boxes, as long as any leftover pizza has been removed. Carbon and laminated paper cannot be recycled.
“Anything with the recycle symbol on the bottom can be recycled,” said Lea Brown, assistant manager, Quality Recycle Program. “You can use the number in the center of the recycle symbol to identify types of plastics when separating them further.”
And although customers are encouraged to separate items by types of materials, it is not required. Just getting everyone to take that initial step to recycle is a huge move forward, Brown said.
Items are collected weekly and brought to the QRP lot on Rifle Range Road where they are further separated and processed. Like items are bundled together and then sold.
Long gone are the days where we contract and pay a vendor to haul our trash away. Recyclable materials are now sold to vendors.
The Combat Center received more than $587,000 in 2010 in recycling revenue. Money generated from the recycling center is used to support employee salaries, maintain and upgrade equipment and public outreach projects aboard the base, like parks and landscaping projects.
The Combat Center is leading the way in recycling initiatives.
“We want our base to be the one all other bases are looking at and emulating,” Brown said.