By Bill Franklin Navy Region Southwest Environmental Public Affairs
Navy Region Southwest was honored as a recipient of California’s highest environmental award by San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox and the Industrial Environmental Association during a 23 April awards luncheon at the San Diego County Operations Center.
The Navy is the second federal agency to receive the 2012 California Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award since its inception in 1996, said Leslie L. McLaughlin, sustainable solid waste program manager, Navy Facilities Engineering Command Southwest. The award is recognition of Navy’s recycling efforts like an 82 percent landfill diversion rate and hundreds of jobs created from our recycling operations, added McLaughlin.
“It is gratifying to be recognized at the state level and locally for the Navy’s environmental and economic contributions from our recycling and sustainability programs,” said Teresa C. Ramos, executive director, Navy Region Southwest.
The Navy generates approximately $4 million in recycling revenue each year, employs a staff of 60 to run its recycling programs, and is responsible for hundreds of other jobs in the community to transport and process recyclable materials sold by the Navy, said Ramos.
A few of the Navy’s recycling success stories have come from unlikely sources.
We removed 343 obsolete rail cars at a Navy detachment in Concord, California recycling 10,000 tons of steel and generating $830,000 in revenue which benefited the recycling program and increased recycling jobs, said Ramos.
“The Navy realizes the need to promote a culture of resourcefulness versus wastefulness is an important part of the NRSW’s Sustainable Solid Waste Program’s mission,” said McLaughlin
Recycling rail cars in an environmentally friendly way was also important to the Navy.
A certified biologist was onsite to reduce or avoid any impacts to migratory birds that nested in a rail car, said McLaughlin. We actually moved any railcar where a nest was found to a safe location until the nesting was over, she added.
Protecting the environment is important, but the Navy also reuses furniture and invests in sustainable furnishings for their facilities.
In 2011 we reused $1.25 million worth of office furniture and have diverted 344 tons out of the landfill today, said McLaughlin. We also maintain a showroom of sustainable office furniture, flooring, partitions and fabrics from 70 manufacturers made with recycled or green materials that our Navy customers can select for their office spaces, she added.
The Navy’s approach to sustainable solid waste management not only helps reduce waste to the landfill but has created jobs in the process.
Our programs market and sell nearly 25,000 tons of recycled material per year to California-based recycling companies, said Ramos. We use a variety of strategies that have increased business for local recycling markets, created jobs and saved taxpayers dollars, added Ramos.