By Scott Prater
Until now at Schriever, cutting open that box with the flat-screen monitor inside or removing that delicate electronic equipment from its shipping container has left people wondering what to do with the accompanying plastic foam. It serves its purpose well, protecting valuable items from damage, but when its initial job is done, well, it usually does nothing more than occupy space at a landfill.
Not anymore. As of Feb. 9, recycling dumpsters on base can now accept plastic foam, all types of plastic and glass as well.
“Before, people had no other choice than to dump those items in with the trash,” said Doug Chase, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron, environmental engineer. “The reason? Our solid waste contractor had no market for those products, but they found one recently.”
The change may seem small at first glance, but Chase contends that including these pesky byproducts in recycling is important for Schriever because it helps raise the base’s percentage of recycling to refuse, saving money and helping us become better environmental stewards.
“The Air Force has set a goal for bases to recycle 42 percent of their solid waste stream and this last quarter we reached 32 percent,” Chase said. “In past quarters we were as low as 13 percent, but this new development should help. The more we recycle the less goes to the landfill and the less it costs us to send refuse there.”
Schriever pays approximately $100,000 a year in “waste or refuse” disposal, according to Chase. Comparatively, if our recycling rate was 70 percent, the corresponding refuse disposal payment would be roughly cut in half.
Saving funds now could lead to even bigger savings in the future. Chase indicated that 50 CES tracks every dollar we save by not sending refuse to the landfill. Schriever’s long-range recycling plan (3 to 5 years) includes contributing to the construction of a military recycling facility. The proposed facility would be designed for use by Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, the United States Air Force Academy and Schriever and would likely be located on or near Fort Carson.
Chase said that saving money provides an incentive to recycle, but other motivations are just as important. He pointed to how recycling conserves natural resources and energy, saves landfill space and reduces water and air pollution.
Col. Jonathan Webb, 50th Mission Support commander, agrees and implores Schriever members to take an active role in base recycling efforts.
“For recycling to work we need a team effort with everyone doing their part,” he said. “All base personnel are a vital part of our recycling program when we take time to look for alternatives to throwing something in the garbage. Everything from putting soda cans in the proper bin to reusing cubical furniture allows us to make a difference in diverting waste from our landfills.”
It will take approximately six weeks for crews to change signage on the recycling dumpsters located around base. In the meantime the new acceptance policy has taken effect. Comingled recycling containers and dumpsters at Schriever now accept paper, cardboard, glass, metal cans, plastics and plastic foam. Food containers must be free of food debris, but do not have to be squeaky clean.
Webb placed a special emphasis on paper.
“The most beneficial recycling initiative we have is the shredding of all paper and documents,” he said. “This supports both the base recycling program and our operational security program. There should never be a piece of paper in the trash.”
Never place batteries, fluorescent lamps or bulbs in a recycle or refuse container. These items must be turned into 50 CES. Find a location by calling 567-4242.
The 50 CES is offering recycling containers for work centers including: eight-gallon desk-side containers, 23-gallon containers and 50- and 95-gallon containers with wheels. Can crushers with attaching containers that hold 300 to 400 cans are also available.