The U.S. Navy wants to recycle 3 million to 4 million pounds of shipboard plastic waste a year into marine pilings, under a project with Seaward International Inc. The Navy and Seaward have signed a research and development agreement under which Seaward of Clear Brook, Va., will sell the finished pilings to the Navy at a reduced cost.
Storing shipboard waste, especially food-service waste, poses a major sanitation problem, said Craig Alig, head of the Environmental Quality Department at the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Carderock Division site in Annapolis, Md.
The Navy developed a machine that compresses all types of plastic waste, including waste contaminated with food, into disks 20 inches in diameter. Under the agreement, researchers will develop a way to use the disks as filler in Seaward's Sea Pile pilings, Alig said.
``The Navy currently has plans to purchase and install those machines in every Navy ship at sea,'' Alig said.
The devices are about twice as large as a top-loading washing machine, Alig said. Plastic is shredded, then heated and compressed, evaporating the liquid. One disk holds six 30-gallon bags of plastic waste.
The Navy estimates the average sailor produces two-tenths of a pound of plastic waste per day while at sea. It adds up: An aircraft carrier produces about 1,200 pounds a day.
``It's a win-win solution for the environment, the Navy and industry,'' said Capt. James Baskerville, commander of the Carderock Division.
The Carderock Division pro-vides the Navy with research and development, testing and evaluation, fleet support, in-service engineering and test ranges.
Testing began on the Navy's solid waste equipment last fall. Alig said the devices have captured the attention of cruise ship lines and people who work in remote sites with no regular trash pickup.