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Recycling on base still active, still important

Base employee Estella Holmes deposits newspapers into a recycling center collection point for paper. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michele Eaton)

Base employee Estella Holmes deposits newspapers into a recycling center collection point for paper. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michele Eaton)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- American trash is still piling up faster than it can be recycled.

Americans generate about 250 million tons of trash per year and recycle at about 35 percent, according to the Environment Protection Agency. Those figures have improved slightly over the last three years, but there is still work to be done to preserve the environment.

Being a good steward to the Miami Valley community environment is a continuing responsibility for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and part of this stewardship is to see that recycling remains a top priority. To answer the call to care for the environment and the crucial need to save money, the Wright-Patterson recycling program launched a new plan Oct. 1 that saves the base thousands of dollars. The plan calls for recycling commodities to be collected in large, centrally located pods, rather than from individual buildings.

According to recycling program manager Dave Dalton, Wright-Patterson AFB was losing about $100,000 per year under the old program. In the past, the recycling center was forced to focus most of its man-hours on drink containers, which are labor intensive and not very profitable. The only thing that has changed under the new program is the way drink containers are collected and serviced.

Due to the more stream-lined drink container collection and service process, paper, cardboard, printer toner cartridges, and metal - commodities that have more sale value than drink containers - can now be collected and processed more efficiently and cost-effectively.

"Now, we can expand our shred service for sensitive document paper - some organizations still use off-base shred service for about 10 cents per pound - and it can be done in house for no cost under the base's recycling program," Dalton said.

"By changing to the pod concept, we will be able to shift manpower to more profitable commodities," said Dalton. "The recycling center is expected to be operated like a business and be able to pay for all expenses with the income gained from sales of commodities."

The old plan also limited the number of buildings from which recyclables could be collected - again due to manpower and equipment expenses. Some buildings could not recycle certain commodities because of the high number of buildings on base and collection from every building was cost-prohibitive.

"Because Wright-Patterson AFB is so large, we have never been able to provide containers for each building. This concept provides everyone with the option to recycle. While the concept is new and may take some getting used to, it's actually a very practical way to recycle," said Dalton.

Col. Carolyn Patrick, 88 Air Base Wing vice commander, stressed that units could be allowed to keep recycling containers they already had if they intended to use them for a unit-run program.

"We just don't want folks throwing away recyclables. That is not good for the environment or for our refuse contract," she said.

The new, centralized pods have been placed in locations that are easy to stop by on the way to lunch or home.

For Area A:
Bldg. 1 parking lot
Bldg. 22 parking lot
Bldg. 4035 parking lot
Bldg. 262 and 266

For Area B:
AMC Complex
Bldg. 52 on the north side
Bldg. 837 parking lot on the north side

"The recycling center provides a quality service for the Wright-Patterson community," Dalton said.. "We save organizations money by providing services that would be coming out of their budgets. We reduce the cost of the base solid waste contract by recycling trash instead of land-filling it."

"It's important that the community supports the recycling center by continuing to recycle," he continued. "By recycling, we save valuable land-fill space that will be needed in the future."