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Face of Defense: Marine Embraces Recycling to Cut Costs

By Marine Corps Cpl. Mark Stroud
III Marine Expeditionary Force

OKINAWA, Japan, June 1, 2012 – Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew S. Belk, a motor vehicle mechanic with Support Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), came up with a plan to help his battalion save money in a combat zone through recycling on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew S. Belk, a motor vehicle mechanic with Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), attaches leads to a dead battery at the CLB-4 compound on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, May 20, 2012. The battery, which had been drained of power during tactical logistics support operations, was recharged as part of the battalion’s battery recycling program. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mark Stroud

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Belk’s idea was to implement a system that function-tests depleted tactical vehicle batteries. Under the new system, each spent battery that passes the function test is then recharged and redistributed throughout the battalion for use in its vehicle fleet.

“This is [Belk’s] brainstorm. He came up with the idea and [gathered all of the necessary equipment],” said Marine Corps Cpl. Edgar E. Aguilar, noncommissioned officer-in-charge at the battalion’s hazardous waste accumulation point.

“The program has saved over $120,000 so far on purchasing new batteries,” Aguilar said.

Prior to implementation of the recycling program, all dead batteries were delivered to Camp Leatherneck’s hazardous waste accumulation point for proper disposal, Aguilar said.

“The value of the program is that it saves money for the battalion,” said Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Troy C. Havard, maintenance officer, Support Company, CLB-4. “It is also friendly to the environment since it keeps us from having to dispose of the batteries.”

The battalion’s maintenance Marines used battery chargers to test batteries on tactical vehicles when they came in for maintenance work, Belk said.

“I used to work in the maintenance bay,” he said. “I knew they had chargers, and I knew we could use them [at the CLB-4 hazardous waste accumulation point] for a recycling program.”

The Marines ensure re-energized batteries maintain their charge by testing them for proper function before distributing them for use in the battalion’s fleet of vehicles.

“We measure the voltage of the batteries after they have been charged … if they meet a certain requirement, we separate them and leave them for a day,” Belk said. “I measure them again and, if they are still holding the charge, they are good to go.”

Batteries that do not properly maintain a charge are delivered to the Camp Leatherneck hazardous waste accumulation point for disposal, Belk said.

The battery recycling program saves the battalion money and helps the environment, Belk said, and also provides a good example for other Marines to follow in the areas of fiscal responsibility and protecting the environment.


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