By ET3 Tyler Kirkland
With the suggestion of a comment made, I am going to give you first hand info on how RUSSELL processes her garbage.
With marine life and ocean beauty conservation an integral part of the ship’s concerns, the way we process our garbage has evolved greatly since the days of the old DD’s.
About once a month, I get tagged with going down to the “PWP”, another one of our famous abbreviations, and it means “Plastic Waste Processing”, but the room isn’t only for plastic waste, but also pulpable and metals.
During certain scheduled, (and enforced), times of the day, Sailors can bring down their garbage.
Afternoon: Metal and glass.
Night: Pulpables (paper, food, etc…)
So I go down this ladderwell into a space about 15’ long by 10’ wide. This room contains a plastic shredder, 2 plastic compressors, a metal shredder, and a huge pulper.
I’ll take the garbage for the time I’m down there, so for this example, lets say I’m working with plastics. I’ll empy the plastics into the shredder, and let it run for about 2 minutes, then take the shreds out of the bottom, and pour them into the compressor. The compressor takes about 30 minutes to run, but it basically takes all of the shreds, compresses them and melts them into a disk about 2’ across and 1” thick. Those disks are placed in holders in PWP until we pull into port or can transfer them to another ship for recycling.
The metal and glass are shredded and placed into burlap sacks for disposal over the side.
All aerosol cans, compressed air cans and anything contaminated with hazardous materials are set aside to be disposed of properly with other hazardous materials to a replenishment ship or once we are pierside.
The pulpables are poured into the “pulper”, which adds water, grinds and spins at a high rate of speed until it just becomes a diluted mush, and it’s processed over the side into the ocean.
I’ll be the first to tell you that it takes someone with their gag reflex in check to go down there and process waste. It can get pretty dirty and smelly, but it usually only lasts 2 hours a shift.
Everynight, PWP is cleaned from top to bottom with hoses, scrubbers, and swabs to control the smell and mold build up.
As a matter of fact, I’m just glancing at the schedule, and I’ll be down there tonight processing all of the food left over from dinnertime. Yum!