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Naval District Washington’s (NDW) Qualified Recycling Program (QRP) is dedicated to conserving natural and financial resources by diverting recyclable materials from the waste stream. But in addition to providing an ecological benefit through limiting waste and energy usage, the QRP also works to save NDW money. Since the program’s introduction in 2012, managers have been working to make the program as self-sufficient as possible, and to do that, they rely on the personnel it serves.

“We can recycle about 90 percent of waste material from most of our work spaces here in NDW,” said Lt. j.g. Darren N. Moore, facilities maintenance and facilities sustainment branch head for Public Works Department (PWD) Washington. “NDW already has this contract in place, and we pay the contractor to recycle our recyclables for us. Within that contract there is an outstanding opportunity to make a return on that material; money can be saved. That’s competency in action.”

Moore explained that the recycling contract that NDW has with Melwood pays dividends through use; the recyclable material collected from NDW is processed and sold to a broker, with the money coming back to NDW and being taken off the cost of the contract.

“In short, the more we recycle in NDW, the more economical the program becomes,” said Moore.

Further benefits come from increased use of the QRP in the region. As outlined in CNICINST 7300.1, sale of the recyclable materials are first used to cover the costs directly attributable to installation QRPs. After costs of the QRP are recovered, installation commanding officers may use up to 50 percent of the remaining proceeds for pollution abatement and prevention, as well as energy conservation projects, or occupational health and safety projects, to name a few. If the remaining balance available to an installation’s QRP exceeds $2 million, the amount of that excess gets deposited into the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts.

“The only real problem occurs if people don’t recycle,” said Moore. “It’s like having a gym membership and never setting foot in the gym. You really have to look at it like an economy of scale. Just as important is the concept of working toward becoming a paperless Navy. Once someone uses a piece of paper, that’s a sunk cost. How do we recover the cost? We get it to the recycling plant. They take the waste product and the Navy gets a percentage of the recouped funds back. Those funds are then used to reduce the bottom line cost of the contract, and that’s how we save,” said Moore.

Program managers look to the NDW community to be the driving force behind the QRP.

“It really goes back to knowledge and education of the program and letting the users know what is recyclable so that it goes into the right receptacle to be recycled,” said Cari Gill, Melwood’s performance assessment representative at PWD Washington. “If you go to any desk-side waste basket chances are the only thing that’s in there that is not recyclable is food. Everything else - paper, plastic, even paper clips - is recyclable.”

Gill explained that NDW’s recyclable materials include cardboard, white paper, colored paper, newspaper, aluminum cans, plastic and glass containers, wooden pallets and toner cartridges. Even shredded documents may be recycled. But Gill warns that if recyclable material is not placed in the correct receptacle, it simply becomes waste and does no good to the program.

“It has to go in the correct bin or it can’t be collected for processing, plain and simple,” said Gill. “So the program is very dependent upon personnel understanding what can and can’t be recycled, and then making sure it goes where it needs to be in order to do the most good.”

Through continued effort, NDW hopes to achieve a goal of recycling 40 percent of all waste in the region.

“If every individual does their part, we can easily reach, and surpass, that goal,” said Moore. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the level of determination that drives each person to excel. I’m convinced that drive to excel is in our NDW personnel,” he added.