FEBRUARY 2, 2023 – Environmental protection specialists from the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services office at Camp Pendleton set out across the hilly, oceanside Marine Corps installation in December in search of used batteries.
The customer visits lasted four days as the disposal team reached 31 locations and netted four truckloads of lead acid batteries weighing a total of 65,000 pounds. A DLA contract sale of that hazardous material later returned $10,000 to DOD coffers.
A lead acid battery removal partnership with DLA helped the Marine Corps avoid an estimated $117,000 in disposal costs on the removal of 324,980 pounds of batteries during fiscal 2022, according to Bryan Osborn, a DLA customer and official with the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Environmental Security Department. Osborn said that, prior to turning to DLA Disposition Services in 2016, the base was directly paying contractors for disposal.
“Pendleton continually looks for process improvements and waste minimization efforts to be good environmental stewards,” Osborn said. When a recycling option was identified, the base worked with DLA to set management standards for a contract and developed standard operating procedures, requirements and additional guidance that were distributed to the various commands across the installation.
Agency Environmental Protection Specialists Ruel Gonzalvo and Eric Viramontes Merino have conducted the regularly recurring customer battery pick-ups for the past five and three years, respectively. They said a normal pickup takes them to between 30 and 35 sites, where contract personnel collect between 70 and 100 pallets of material each time.
“These are heavy vehicle lead acid batteries – each one weighs around 90 pounds,” Viramontes Merino said. “A pallet fits 12 to 16 batteries and easily weighs over 1000 pounds, so loading and moving these pallets around is not something that is easy for all the different generators. The right equipment and experience in loading and moving these heavy pallets in difficult locations is best – the contractor and DLA are equipped to make that go smoothly.”
Though some of the pickup sites can be as far as an hour from the DLA Disposition Services Pendleton office, Viramontes Merino said the team looks forward to the trips, as it gets them out and interacting face to face with the warfighters they support.
“Making it go smoothly is a constant challenge,” he said. “I enjoy the visits and consider it a success if there are no injuries or property damage and all the locations get their batteries picked up.”
By Jake Joy
Defense Logistics Agency