Single stream bins increase recycling participation

(U.S. Air Force photo/Lea Johnson)
An employee from BlueStar Recyclers sorts a vacuum into the proper recycling bin at The Exchange Nov. 15. The recycling event was part of America Recycles Day. Base users were encouraged to drop off old electronics and appliances for recycling to commemorate the day. In addition to the recycling event, a single stream recycling bin is being installed at building 350 at the end of the month.

By Lea Johnson

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — In April, the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron converted buildings 3, 1324 and 2025 to a single-stream recycling system. This meant that all recyclables could be put into one bin, rather than dividing them based on the type of material.

According to Phil Chase, 21st CES Pollution Prevention Program manager, single stream recycling has been proven to be more convenient for recyclers, resulting in increased base participation.

Executive Order 13514, Department of Defense Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, and Air Force Space Command Fiscal Year 12 Strategic Plan each set a goal to divert at least 50 percent of each installation’s municipal solid waste from landfills by 2015.

“While Peterson Air Force Base is excelling in diversion and reuse of construction and demolition debris, recycling of papers, boxboard, magazines, glass, plastic, aluminum and tin or steel is lagging significantly below what could be diverted,” Chase said.

According to Chase, waste stream audits conducted at Peterson AFB from 2006-2011 revealed more than 40 percent of what was discarded at surveyed facilities could have been recycled.

Diverting recyclables from the landfill has a significant cost impact.

“Average recycling costs are half of municipal solid waste disposal costs. At Peterson, recycling averages $69 per ton, versus disposal rates of $171 per ton,” he said. “If we recycle more we save more money, and conserve more resources.”

For the past seven months, buildings 3, 1324, and 2025 have had single stream recycling bins to make recycling as easy as possible. The bins were installed as part of Peterson’s celebration of Earth Day.

The bins have proven valuable. Chase said building 3 has reduced the amount of trash thrown away by 20 percent and increased recycling by 30 percent. Building 1324 has reduced trash by 30 percent and also increased recycling by 30 percent. Building 2025 reduced trash by 30 percent and increased recycling by 60 percent.

“We are meeting and exceeding Air Force goals for those three buildings,” Chase said.

Overall, the new single-stream recycling will make it simpler for those working on base to recycle and do their part to make Peterson the best place to live.

As part of America Recycles Day Nov. 15, the 21st CES conducted a dumpster dive of building 350’s trash in The Exchange parking lot. On Nov. 28, a single stream recycling bin was installed at building 350. Chase said three months of data will be collected to gauge the recycling habits of building 350 and improve further implementation of the bins across base.

For more information, contact Chase at 556-7707.

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