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Twentynine Palms, California
Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
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Elton Munoz, left, LeRoy Edick and James Kitchak of the Qualified Recycling Program Residential Commercial Recycling Section process cardboard for baling at QRP’s commercial-industrial lot on Rifle Range Road. Each bale weighs between 1,500 and 1,700 pounds.

Photo by Kelly O'Sullivan

Recycling Program helps Combat Center, environment

8 Feb 2013 | Kelly O’Sullivan Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Combat Center offices and households generate an average of eight tons of recyclables every week, but you won’t see it piling up anywhere for too long, thanks to the Qualified Recycling Program’s residential-commercial and industrial recycling sections.

During their weekly rounds to collect garbage from 1,720 family housing units and more than 300 offices aboard the installation, QRP crews also pick up everything from office paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and aluminum cans to old furniture and appliances, Manager Patrick Mills said. Those items are taken to the commercial-industrial lot on Rifle Range Road, where they’re processed for sale to American recycling vendors.

The Residential Commercial Recycling Section compacts items like cardboard and plastics into 1,500- to 1,700-pound bundles for easy transport to vendors, while the Industrial Recycling Operations Section processes household appliances that are no longer usable and puts them out to bid every 30 to 40 days.

“Really, nothing goes into the landfill if we have a say about it,” Mills said. “Even old wooden pallets can be shredded and sold.”

Nothing is too small for Mills’ crews to tackle. For example, cables are removed from old computers and appliances and the copper wiring inside is collected. It adds up quickly — “we send about 700 pounds out a month,” he said.

Proceeds from commercial and industrial recycling sales, along with revenue from the sale of items processed at QRP’s Range Sustainment Branch and Hazardous Waste Management Section cover the labor and equipment costs associated with each lot, with enough money left over to help make life easier for Combat Center Marines and sailors, and their families.

Their contributions to quality-of-life projects aboard the installation are a great source of pride for QRP’s 51 employees, Mills said.

“Last year, we gave the base $880,000,” he said. Over the years, revenues from the three lots have funded such projects as construction of the installation’s water park, the enlargement of Dinosaur Park and the purchase of three vans for the Single Marine Program.

This year, Mills said, recycling money will help the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center at Bridgeport purchase a similar van for its Single Marine Program.

QRP also is making capital improvements this year, including the massive shade structure that recently replaced an old, damaged one at the commercial-industrial lot. Mills said the structure, which was dedicated during a Feb. 1 ribbon-cutting ceremony, will not only protect people and materials from the elements, it also will reduce maintenance costs on equipment by keeping it shaded and dry.

Next up is pouring of concrete in strategic areas of all three lots to cut down on dust.

Mills said the men and women of QRP are constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency, save money, raise recycling revenues and find new markets for their products.

“I have some really good people,” he said. “They’re all stakeholders. They all love what they do.”

Mills encourages everyone who lives and works aboard the Combat Center to do their part simply by making sure that every piece of white paper, cardboard box, soda can or glass or plastic bottle goes into the blue recycling bin instead of the trash bin at their home or office.

“It’s important for them to do anything in their means to help us achieve higher outcomes and help the Marines (and sailors) we are here to serve,” he said.

Want to learn more?

Marines, sailors, family members, Combat Center employees and contractors who would like more information on the Qualified Recycling Program, or who would like to tour one of its three lots are invited to call (760) 830-7244.

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms