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NEWS | Oct. 8, 2019

Combining Partnerships with Recycled Material for Creative (and Sometimes Edible) Results

By Mira Micin 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office

In addition to partnerships with external entities, Department of Defense installations should look within for partnership opportunities in their own communities. Federal agencies, including DoD, are required by Executive Order 13834 to improve operational efficiency and implement waste prevention and recycling measures.

One common instrument to implement these requirements are Environmental Management Systems (EMSs), and most DoD EMSs require use of EPA’s P2 or Pollution Prevention approach, which prioritizes practices that prevent or recycle waste materials at the source.

With a little creativity, it is not hard to find opportunities to reuse or recycle what one person considers waste into a positive use for another.

Across the Air Force, some installations are establishing organic gardens for a variety of reasons: to grow food, to beautify the installation, or to provide habitat and otherwise enhance natural resources.

At Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, the installation built a pollinator garden to promote bee colony health. This garden likely supports other desired co-benefits as well, like water quality improvement and preservation of green space.

These projects also present opportunities to combine EMS objectives through cooperation within installations. Wastes and other compostable materials generated by DoD dining facilities are often thrown away into local landfills. However, if they are properly composted, these scraps can provide a stream of organic fertilizer for community gardens.

Furthermore, composting does not have to involve a significant investment of time and material. Arthur Silver, Air Force Civil Engineer Center environmental management systems program manager, constructed a compost screener from broken wooden pallets discarded by JBLE. He uses the screener along with his kitchen scraps to fertilize his personal gardens.

Installations should explore areas where these types of mutual benefit opportunities exist in their locations. Partnership opportunities could include local schools, food facilities, or surrounding municipalities and businesses. These projects help engage the community, reduce waste from entering landfills, promote recycling and provide habitats.