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Environmental considerations have been at the forefront of many naval leaders’ agendas in recent years, thanks in no small part to the U.S. Navy’s recent green energy initiatives. Naval District Washington (NDW) does its part to maintain the Navy’s interest in a healthy environment while being energy conscious with the NDW Qualified Recycling Program (QRP). The program’s bottom line is keeping the region green, efficiently.

“The purpose of the NDW regional recycling program is to conserve natural and financial resources by diverting recyclable materials from the waste stream,” said Patrick Moran, QRP manager for Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington. “To accomplish this, a region-wide recycling contract is in place to collect, transport, process, and sell recyclable materials.”

The QRP was officially started in 2012, though recycling initiatives had been in place prior to the program’s beginning. According to Moran, earlier NDW recycling programs were operated by MWR and then NAVFAC’s environmental branch. The current program is the responsibility of the NAVFAC Washington public works department which contracts out most of the day to day recycling work.

The process is simple, and begins with the average NDW office worker. Paper, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles are disposed of in their respective office-wide collection containers. These are then emptied by the recycling plant contractors who take the recyclables to one of the three regional processing sites at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, or Naval Support Activity Annapolis. The materials are processed, weighed, and sold to a broker who writes a check to the government for the value of materials based on published commodity price values.

“We have a very efficient process, with the funds going straight back to the Navy,” said Birjette Preston, recycling supervisor for the Melwood recycling site at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. “And by recycling, the material is being reused as well, which is much more effective than a single line to the landfill where the material won’t be used.”

Both Moran and Preston agree that the program gives back to the region in more ways than one.

“We’re very proud to be helping out the region’s environment, and doing it in a smart way,” said Moran. “It takes more energy to turn a tree into paper than to just turn paper back into paper. So in addition to reducing the amount of trash being thrown away, the QRP is actively involved in saving energy in the region, too.”

A regional QRP committee kickoff is planned for later this month, said Moran. The committee will assist in developing the program direction and how funds are to be used, as well as coordinate NDW installations’ recycling efforts.

To provide feedback about the program, Moran suggests contacting an installation’s public works office or emailing him directly at patrick.p.moran@navy.mil.