MIDPAC TPU Sailors assist with qualified recycling program

Culinary Specialist Seaman Zamir Walker sorts recyclables at the Hickam Recycling Center, June 28.

Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Stoltz

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs

Sailors assigned to the MIDPAC Transient Personnel Unit (TPU) are usually here at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) to fulfill various duties until they find their way to the vessel of which they are assigned. However, for 15 Sailors, they found their way to a rather large challenge — helping sort and transport more than two-year’s worth of recyclable goods.

The Pearl Harbor recycling center, located on Russell Avenue, building 159, recycles metal totaling as much as $500,000 in revenue annually. Materials processed through the Hickam Recycling Center at Kuntz Avenue, building 1715, processes about 190 tons of newspaper and magazines for approximately $150,000 in annual revenue.

Money earned from the endeavor is returned to the installation to offset program and center operating costs. Both centers have been able to pay for themselves through the proceeds. Although the base recycles plenty of paper product, there was a considerable backlog of HI-5 recyclable bottles and cans.

The reopening of the recycling center caught the attention of many people on base, due to the lack of HI-5 recycling services on base. One of the Sailors whose attention was caught was Chief Gunner’s Mate (SW) Coldon Owens, Sr., MIDPAC Transient Coordinator.

“We (MIDPAC TPU) chose to assist with the QRP (qualified recycling program) because it helps foster a sense of esprit de corps,” he said. “The individuals here all come from different walks of life and this event allows them all to come together to overcome a challenge, much like they would have to while aboard a ship.”

Owens said the process is expected to take approximately one to two months to complete, as there is nearly two years of HI-5 recyclable goods which need to have labels stripped, caps removed and sorted into the correct pile.

“This isn’t going to be an easy task,” Owens said. “For 15 of our Sailors, this is going to be their full-time job.”

The TPU Sailors are slated to work four days a week for seven hours a day until the task is completed. One of these Sailors, Culinary Specialist Seaman Zamir Walker, said he is glad he is able to make great use of his time while in the TPU.

“I want to do my due diligence to help keep this base clean,” Walker said. “Eventually, someone would have to do the work to eliminate this mountain of recyclables. Why not us? Why not now?”

What Walker speaks of is the nearly thirty-foot high collection of soft drink bottles, empty cans and other empty containers. Walker said seeing the mountain shrink every day is refreshing to see.

“I am proud of all of the work my Sailors have put forth so far,” Owens said. “If you were able to see what it looked like only days ago, you could see there has already been considerable improvement. You can also see the hard work and effort they put in every day — and that’s what the Navy is all about.”

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Category: News