It’s become engrained in the national psyche – reduce, reuse, recycle. Environmental awareness is recognized annually (Earth Day), and discussed regularly on political platforms as recent as the Democratic and Republican primaries. As a community, Fort Lee has made it a priority every day, and reports indicate that the program is succeeding.
The post recycling program has exceeded the Department of Defense requirement of total percentage of recycled materials, from October 2006 to March 2007 by 10 percent, according to statistics from Plans, Analysis and Integration Directorate.
In the first two quarters of 2007, 8,978 tons of recyclable waste was recorded, while 4,522 tons of that were diverted to landfill.
With the first quarter falling within the period of the installation’s Fall Clean-up, 392 tons of yard waste was recycled.
After the recent conclusion of the Spring Cleanup, Craig Norris, environmental engineer, anticipates receiving another strong report of recycling efforts.
“I believe we will again see a surge in April and May numbers, similar to those first quarter numbers, when the data comes in,” said Norris. “Prior to this (recycling) initiative, all the leaves collected during fall and Spring Cleanup went directly to the landfill.”
The post’s refuse and recycling contractor, Mark Dunning Industries, initiated the campaign last October to inform the community of recycling yard waste and electronics. Since then, recycling has doubled and tripled its monthly percentages from previous years.
Carrie Jagers, MDI assistant project manager, said that installation efforts to recycle has grown “leaps and bounds” since the program began.
“MDI strives to offer all recycling avenues available in this area, and so far, Fort Lee has been responsive to them all,” said Jagers. “It really shows that this installation is not only striving to comply with solid waste reduction guidelines, but the command, Soldiers and housing residents are concerned about the environment.”
Between the months of March and May 2007, Jagers said, data shows more than twice the recycle rate than the year prior. Debbie Kilpatrick, environmental protection specialist at Directorate of Public Works and Logistics, said that recycling on the contract construction side is also improving.
“I’m seeing exceptional efforts on a daily basis,” said Kilpatrick. “I’m originally from the West coast, where recycling is extreme, and bringing that nature here, I’ve seen a strong desire on this post to recycle.”
Kilpatrick considers herself “a field agent” of sorts – spending a lot of time on construction sites and patrolling the post to inspect recycling bins.
“I’ll frequently check dumpsters and recycling bins on post because it’s always interesting to see what is being recycled and where we need to refocus our efforts.”
She recalled a project nearing completion that has yielded tremendous results.
“It’s a brand new construction project on an old site where the contractors built a warehouse for the 49th Quartermaster Group (on Quartermaster Road),” said Kilpatrick. “What really impressed me was that most jobs have only one dedicated personnel on site for environmental issues, and this team came in with three.”
The Department of Defense has a requirement for all construction/demolition projects to divert at least 50-percent of their solid waste.
The contractors on this project nearly doubled that requirement by surpassing their own projected rate of 60 percent.
“Ninety-eight percent,” said Kilpatrick, “on a new construction project is unheard of. It just doesn’t happen, and for them to achieve that is very encouraging. It meant a lot of planning and overwatch throughout the construction, and they didn’t overlook anything in the process.”