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NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic Recycles Ship Mattresses

NORFOLK, Va. -- Sailors from USS Abraham Lincoln loaded more than 600 mattresses onto trailers Oct. 15, as part of a program run by Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic's Integrated Solid Waste program that will see more than 13,000 shipboard mattresses recycled in a first-of-its-kind program.

The program will save each carrier more than $12,000 compared to if they had thrown away the mattresses, making the program both the greener and cheaper method.

"This saves 91 thousand cubic feet of space in the landfill, the equivalent of the space taken up by six full McDonald's restaurants," said Gregory Jeanguenat, Naval Station Norfolk Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling Site manager.

Jeanguenat said he began to research the possibility of recycling shipboard mattresses after reading an article about a similar Army initiative earlier this year. NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic partnered with the Defense Logistics Agency, who awarded the contract to Nine Lives Mattress Recycling. This follows an earlier pilot program with Spring Back Mattress Recycling.

Michael Cunningham, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic integrated solid waste regional program manager, explained that the companies are able to recycle the steel springs, cotton and neoprene foam from each mattress.

"Programs like this have to be self-sustaining for us to be able to do them," he added. "We can't do it just to be green, or just to help reach our goals of 50% of our waste being diverted from the waste stream; we are required to either save the Navy or make as much as we can in recycling."

The integrated solid waste management program is designed to take advantage of legislative incentives for military installations to establish and operate programs that will divert and reduce waste streams, prevent pollution, and conserve material resources.

He went on to explain that the Mid-Atlantic Region's Qualified Recycling Program made $1.6 million last year after covering the costs to operate the program, profits that were given to Navy Morale Welfare and Recreation, safety and environmental efforts.

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