The Marine Corps Is Phasing Out Paper And Plastic Bags At Its Stores In Its Effort To Go Green

The Marine Corps hopes to eliminate  Mulberry Outlet bags at its base exchange store in Kaneohe and in other military stores on Oahu by this time next year.On Jan. 1, 2009, the Marines stopped using plastic shopping bags and began using paper ones at its retail facilities.Beginning last month, shoppers are credited 5 cents for each reusable bag they brought or face being penalized 5 cents for every paper bag used. Besides Kaneohe Bay, the Marines maintain stores at Manana housing in Pearl City and Camp Smith.Marine Corps officials said that they spent more than $170,000 last year to buy more than 1.2 million paper bags for its customers.Also in the works is phasing out cheap mulberry bags at the commissary, or supermarket, which uses 200,000 plastic bags a month.
The market is patronized by the 15,000 Marines and dependents living on fashion tips, as well as military retirees.Col. Robert Rice, who commands Marine Corps base Hawaii, has said it is part of the Marine Corps' effort to have the 3,000-acre base and its Marines be "lean, green fighting machines" and energy self-sufficient by 2015.Marine Corps base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay was recently named by the Navy as the most eco-friendly installation in its category.The base will spend nearly $13 million over two years on renewable energy and water conservation projects. The Marine Corps also will spend $50 million on a multifuel-capable generation plant and a solar array field, which will generate half of Kaneohe's energy needs of 13 to 20 megawatts."Two weeks ago we just started antifreeze recycling," said Tim Cawthon, manager of the base's hazardous-waste program. "We go out and pick up (used fluid), then put it into the recycling machine to distill it down. We can then issue out new antifreeze."The project is estimated to save $30,000 annually in costs for waste disposal and buying more than 2,125 gallons of the product.The mulberry hobo bags also is looking at other projects such as recharging old lead acid batteries and recycling materials used at its facilities and homes."We're also the first Department of Defense installation to recycle mattresses," said Jim Sibert, recycling center manager. "We've diverted a lot of beds from going to the landfill."The center has contracted companies, including the Green Bed Factory in Kalihi, to recycle 2,000 of the base's disposed mattresses.Other items, such as 3,000 pieces of furniture removed this year from the base's barracks, will be donated to Hawaii charities, Sibert said.The base's recycling center has installed more than 40 recycling bins, made completely from recycled materials, around Mokapu Mall and other common areas.
The center plans to install another 200 recycling bins, made with 80 percent recycled materials, in workspaces all around the Mokapu Peninsula base."We're looking across the entire installation, every facet of our operation, trying to determine where we can improve these processes to be more sustainable," said Maj. Dave Hudock, the base's environmental department director. "How can we continue to operate as we do now, well into the future, without affecting the ability of future generations to operate?"

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May 18, 2012