CRANE, Ind. - Crane Army Ammunition Activity is always looking at its warehouse space to ensure it is making the best use of its ammunition bunkers, but recently an opportunity came to improve its storage capacity and help the environment and local Indiana communities as well.

Storage space in some of the bunkers at Crane Army Ammunition Activity, or CAAA, was being taken up by foamed polystyrene, which had been used as packing material for a previous decoy flare production. The bulky packing material took up a great amount of storage space as it waited for disposal.

CAAA materials handler Clyde Housel saw the material as an opportunity to help both the Army and the environment.

"The material was turned over to CAAA Depot Operations for disposal from CAAA Manufacturing and Engineering when the design for a countermeasure flare was changed and the foam container halves would no longer fit," Housel explained. "Several thousand of these were destined for the landfill at Crane, and because it was near full capacity, I decided that maybe a recycling option could be found."

Housel said that after checking with an Evansville company that CAAA previously used but no longer did that type of recycling work, he was told about Crossroads Industrial Services in Indianapolis. Crossroads is the operating division of Easter Seals Crossroads in Indianapolis, with a mission to employ people with disabilities and generate an income used to support programs for those who cannot work.

Crossroads operates a 68,000 square foot facility on the east side of Indianapolis that does a wide variety of work, providing assembly, packaging and fabrication services to its customer base.

According to Crossroads project manager Jeff Gore, "The polystyrene that Crane provides Crossroads will help in continuing to provide employment for 4-5 individuals with disabilities. Crossroads takes polystyrene from a variety of sources, including; commercial, military, state and local governments, grinds it into small pellets and then compacts it into 100 pound logs.

Once the product has been processed by CIS, it is then shipped to an American manufacturer that turns the compacted polystyrene into consumer products including picture frames and crown molding.

Housel said that so far they have cleared approximately 7,000 square feet of space by recycling the foamed polystyrene, with more material available for recycling once it has been cleared by CAAA for disposal.

"As you can tell, I'm sure, by eliminating this bulky, space gobbling material that is just waste, we will open up space for real ammo storage," Housel explained.

By sending the polystyrene to Crossroads, Crane has made a commitment to keep this recyclable product out of the landfill.

Overall the project has been a win-win for CAAA and Crossroads.

"We want to thank Crane for participating in this program," Gore said. "The recycling of polystyrene is not only good for our environment, it is providing employment for persons with disabilities."

Established Oct. 1977, CAAA maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure in order to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components. The Army activity is a subordinate of the Joint Munitions Command and is located on Naval Support Activity Crane.