Fort Drum officials launch battery recycling program
February 14, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Feb. 14, 2013) -- A unique recycling initiative on post may be the first of its kind Army wide.
The post's new Alkaline Battery Recycling Program is the creation of Dean Clark, a veteran employee of Fort Drum Public Works Environmental Division, who said he knows of no other DOD installation currently recycling alkaline batteries.
The post's Environmental Division not only wanted to give the community an eco-friendly option for disposing of single-use, household batteries, such as A, AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt sizes, but also wanted to save money.
After conducting research and procuring the necessary items, Clark officially launched the program in December.
"It's the right thing to do," he said.
All alkaline batteries may be placed in the white containers mounted on the four-compartment "curb sorters" located around the installation, including motor pools, gas stations and centralized recycling stations in single Soldier housing areas.
Some 85 curb sorters have been dispersed around Fort Drum to collect tin, plastic, glass and metal. They are usually positioned in stations alongside one of the 250 cardboard containers and more than 700 trash containers spread out across post.
Clark said all DOD civilian activities and military units on Fort Drum may place alkaline batteries in a plastic bag to be picked up each week along with other office recyclables.
Clark, whose 14 Refuse and Recycle employees collect on average 6,500 tons of garbage each year, said recycling is DOD policy -- plain and simple.
To reduce the volume of solid waste shipments to off-post facilities, Clark said it is essential that the community ensures recyclable items don't end up on top of the heap of trash-packed landfills.
"They want to see these batteries out of the landfills," he said. "We take these items out of the landfills, it saves us money, and you are not polluting the ground."
All recyclables on post are collected and taken to a central recycling drop-off center on South Post, Bldg. 1142. The sheltered facility, which is open around the clock, houses large containers for everything from junk mail, newspapers and cardboard to plastic, metal and glass.
After speaking with the dealer that purchases the installation's scrap metal, Clark said the dealer agreed to purchase alkaline batteries as well, which will create a savings for Fort Drum in solid waste disposal fees.
Despite being the main impetus behind the recycling effort, Clark said his employees, Public Works Environmental Division and state conservation officials also deserve recognition.
"I can't take all the credit for this program," he said. "I am just a piece of the pie."
The new recycling program does not include lead-acid batteries or rechargeable batteries like nickel-cadmium, lithium ion, nickel metal hydride and other dry cell rechargeable batteries, which are considered hazardous waste and could explode when they are crushed or exposed to moisture.
These batteries are prohibited in all installation trash containers.
"We're asking our customers to take a moment and be sure they do not throw away (such) batteries," Clark said.
New York state passed a law a little over a year ago that requires rechargeable batteries to be recycled. Residents who place rechargeable batteries in the trash can be fined.
Heather Wagner of the Environmental Division noted that Fort Drum residents may drop off rechargeable batteries from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays, or from noon to 2 p.m., Thursdays, at the Hazardous Waste Storage Facility, Bldg. 11144, next to pest control on Bedlam Road off Iraqi Freedom Drive.
Civilian directorates and military tenants may use the "You Call -- We Haul" program.
Battery terminals must be taped before drop-off or pickup.
Lead-acid and sealed acid batteries should be turned into the Support Maintenance Activity, Bldg. P-4530.