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    Waste Management: An All-Hands Effort



    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Gaines 

    USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77)

    ARABIAN GULF – Trash comes in all shapes and sizes, and for most people it gets tossed aside, thrown away and dumped in a landfill never to be seen again. Out at sea, trash is handled a little differently than it is on land, and the Sailors working in waste management aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) deal with the trash of almost 5,000 Sailors on a daily basis.

    These 16 Sailors work in a tight, cramped space where the air is humid and heavy with the odor of the hundreds of pounds of trash one could imagine a small city is capable of producing.

    All this trash has to be sorted and disposed of in accordance with Chief of Naval Operations Instruction 5090.1D.

    “I call us ‘raccoons’ because we dig through everybody’s trash and make sure that it is sorted and processed properly,” said Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Francis Jones, assistant leading petty officer (ALPO) of waste management. “A lot of people get confused when trash doesn’t have a specific paper, plastic or metal label.”

    As the waste management ALPO, Jones is responsible for maintaining the standards set forth by the Bush instruction and the Environmental Protection Agency.

    “The reason why trash is sorted the way it is, is because we process each type of waste in a different way,” said Jones. “Understanding that everything is processed differently makes our job easier.”

    Trash on board U.S. Navy ships is handled and disposed of in a few different ways.

    At three nautical miles, pulpable materials such as paper and food waste (excluding bones and fruit pits) are shredded, pulped and sliced into a 12 millimeter diameter and pushed over the side in a slurry mixture. At 12 nautical miles, burnable materials such as wood, old rags and uniforms, textiles, magazines, and boots are tossed into the incinerator and burned. At 25 nautical miles, metal and glass are shredded and placed into burlap sacks and thrown overboard. And finally, all plastic is rinsed, shredded and placed into a compress melt unit (CMU), which turns the shredded plastic into a large puck that is held on board until we pull into port or transfer it to another ship.

    Due to the impact plastic has on the environment, the law strictly prohibits the discharge of plastic from Navy surface ships worldwide, and the only exceptions to this law are for the purpose of ensuring the safety of the ship, health of the crew, or to save a life at sea.

    “Everything we do has an impact on the environment,” said Jones. “We help keep all the plastic out of the ocean, which helps keep marine life safe. I think we are actually doing a great job and keeping the environment safe.”

    According to a 2015 study by Science magazine, 8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean every year, which endangers wildlife and poses a threat to marine life worldwide, and, as responsible stewards of the environment, waste management on board U.S. Navy ships is an all hands effort.



    Date Taken: 11.15.2017
    Date Posted: 12.11.2017 18:58
    Story ID: 258335
    Location: USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, US

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