YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- "In the fiscal year of 2011, the government saved one million dollars, in material costs alone, as a result of recycling used material on the garrison," said Enrique Blanco, U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan Roads and Grounds branch chief, in an interview, Jan. 26.

Although it may not seem so, recycling has saved a significant amount of money when it comes to garrison maintenance. That is why, in the midst of the efforts to cut costs in the Military, recycling is a major way to do so.

Blanco claimed that many used materials from old buildings and structures around the garrison that were typically thrown away could be used in a vast number of renovation projects. These excess materials include anything from lumber, cement, metal, stones, electrical wires, old telephone poles, soil, and even plants and bushes.

Whenever the Directorate of Public Works collects these materials, they store them in various holding areas until they can be used for renovation projects to improve the garrison. All throughout the garrison, many renovations could be seen, which made use of recycled materials, severely lowering construction costs.

One concern with the idea of using recycled material is that it may lower the quality of the structures, thus becoming a safety risk. Blanco assured, however, that "Safety is our number one concern, and we will never compromise that just to lower the cost."

In fact, one of DPW's primary focuses for building projects is improving the safety and convenience of the garrison for Yongsan Community members. Some of the most common renovations mentioned by Blanco were the making of wooden walls, and planting of trees to prevent erosion, which was a safety hazard to the Community.

According to Blanco, the biggest project that was conducted since he took over the branch 12 years ago, was a sidewalk that stretched from Gate 6 to Gate 5, allowing Soldiers and Families to travel safely. In the past, this area did not have a sidewalk or railing, making it a dangerous area for pedestrians to pass through.

Approximately 200 recycled telephone poles gathered from Dongducheon and other areas around the peninsula were used as construction material to be stacked into a 'telephone-pole-wall,' which could support the sidewalk, as it was built on elevated ground. Blanco explained that by using recycled material, what would have cost approximately $400,000 dollars only cost $60,000 dollars, saving an impressive $340,000 in a single project.

Every year, DPW conducts numerous building projects similar to this one, which increase the quality of life for Yongsan Community members. Projects such as these not only benefit the Community by increasing safety and convenience, but also by allowing the money to be used elsewhere.

"It may not be lavish, but that's not our job," said Blanco. "Our job is to maintain the garrison, keep it safe, and find a way to complete the mission, even at a lower cost."

Page last updated Wed February 22nd, 2012 at 01:15