Army Reserve establishing new recycling program in underserved areas beginning with Am Samoa
Honolulu, HAWAII — The U.S. Army Reserve’s 9th Mission Support Command (9th MSC), Hawaii, is partnering with organizations across the Pacific to establish new recycling programs in places such as American Samoa, Guam, Saipan, and Alaska. Without ready access to traditional recycling programs, the 9th MSC has sought out creative ways to divert cardboard, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, e-waste, and more. By diverting waste from landfills, these efforts are advancing the Army Reserve towards meeting federal climate and waste management goals.
“American Samoa does not offer recycling on the island and has one landfill that has exceeded its lifetime expectancy,” explained Te’sha Makamae Kaikamahine Khumoku-Derricotte, who provides contract support as the 9th MSC Pollution Prevention and Recycling Specialist. “The trash has to be recompacted to reduce voids and pack down the waste. Because of this, we knew we had to find cost-effective ways to divert waste and within the last year, have found two really great ways to do so.”
To divert cardboard waste, the Army Reserve has partnered with the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“The EPA was working on a project to collect e-waste from the community but had nothing to store it in,” explained Kahumoku-Derricotte. “Pele Army Reserve Center started providing tri-wall cardboard boxes to the EPA instead of throwing them away. Now, the EPA can collect and store e-waste from the island and ship it to Long Beach, California, where the e-waste and cardboard are ultimately recycled.”
The 9th MSC is also in the process of purchasing a shipping container for Pele Army Reserve Center to store and ship mixed-recycling materials from American Samoa to California through the Moana Taka Partnership.
The partnership, activated in 2022, currently enables the Army Reserve to coordinate with local shipping companies to drop-off of a container for collected spent batteries, schedule pickups of full containers, and secure shipping dates of containers to California. The 9th MSC then coordinates with their recycler in California for port pickup.
“This is our first recycling program in American Samoa and our Soldiers and Civilian employees are extremely happy about it,” shared Kahumoku-Derricotte.
“It is a positive step forward for Army Reserve personnel to be able to do their part in improving the health and safety of the island, and also for helping the 9th MSC meet Army waste reduction goals.”
Once American Samoa has fully-established their new recycling program in 2023, the 9th MSC will shift their focus to other islands in 2024.
The Moana Taka Partnership will expand to Guam and Saipan using shipping containers to store and ship recyclables to either South Korea or Japan.
In Alaska, the 9th MSC has identified a program that will collect plastics for a small fee and will turn them into beams and blocks for community benches.
“At the end of the day, we all have the same goal of diverting waste from the landfill. And through the efficiencies of partnership, we can all accomplish that singular goal faster and together.”