Dumpster diving for the environment

Published: Mar. 11, 2009 at 7:58 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 12, 2009 at 12:11 AM HST
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US Coast Guard Commander Erich Klein
US Coast Guard Commander Erich Klein
Michelle Coskev
Michelle Coskev
Sarah Roseberg
Sarah Roseberg

By Tracy Gladden - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The United States Coast Guard is looking at ways to go green and that includes analyzing their trash. College interns put on their latex gloves and hop into dumpsters, all to find out just how much of the Coast Guards trash is actually recyclable.

"We have a refuse contract that is up for expiration soon and were interested in reducing our impact on the environment," US Coast Guard Commander Erich Klein said.

The Coast Guard has teamed up with the University of Hawaii at Manoa to focus on waste management.

The students sort what they find in the base's dumpsters into different categories.

"HI 5, metals, news papers, recycled materials and then once it's sorted into different bags we'll weigh each category," college student Michelle Coskev said. "There are some cans and bottles that we need to do a better job of keeping out, some paper products, there is some food waste that may be able to be composted," she said.

"So far we've found a lot of compost in the trash it was probably 100 pounds of compost," Coskev says that added weight goes to the trash bill.

"It would save them a lot of money every month," student Sarah Roseberg says, "It's costing the island a ton to ship our trash out to the mainland and we shouldn't have to do that."

During the month long project, the students will analyze all the dumpsters on base. "Were on a small island and we have no place to put our trash so I think it's an excellent place to start doing this kind of waste auditing," Roseberg says, it's not a glamorous job but the results could greatly affect the amount of trash the Coast Guard Base sends to Hawaii's overflowing landfill.