By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Last year, the Satellite Dish dining facility used roughly 180,000 non-biodegradable plastic foam carry-out trays and 350,000 24-ounce foam cups. This year, facility staff are implementing steps to reduce waste and go “green.”
“We have three steps — education, implementation and disposal. Education is probably the most important one,” said Jack Riley, dining facility contract owner.
Mr. Riley said the goal is to educate his employees and the base populace on going “green” and exchange certain dining facility items for more environmentally friendly alternatives.
“Our goal is to reduce waste where we can, yet still offer our customers what they need and stay within our budget,” he said.
The new program is being implemented under the Air Force’s Green Procurement program, which establishes guidelines for using environmentally friendly and energy efficient products.
Dining facility patrons will soon notice new items such as small cardboard trays, paper ketchup cups in place of plastic ones and the discontinuation of the eight and 16-ounce plastic foam cups.
Mr. Riley said that public health also recently changed a policy which prohibited the use of personal cups, mugs and bottles. Airmen and civilians can now use their own beverage container to fill up on their favorite drink in the dining facility.
In addition to the policy change, the 24-ounce cup, the most popular drink size item, will be replaced with a biodegradable paper version.
According to Chuck Dietz, 50th Force Support Squadron food operations manager, patrons can help by easily preventing waste in the dining area.
“One of the biggest problems we have are people sitting in the dining area using to-go items when we have plenty of plates and cups ready,” Mr. Dietz said.
He said this is another opportunity to educate base personnel on effective ways to decrease unnecessary waste and use the dining area items provided.
Ultimately, Mr. Dietz said one of their goals is to try to cut reduce waste by at least half by the end of the year.
“We started recycling tin cans, plastic bottles, anything we can recycle, we’ll recycle. We’ve been recycling cardboard forever,” he said.
Emphasizing the benefit of the many changes to come, Mr. Riley sums up how the new program will improve the dining experience for many and help the environment in the long run.
“We’re trying to do what we can do to reduce the amount of plastic foam, help in recycling and reduce energy usage and stay within our budget guidelines. We’re going to be changing to the low energy lights with the help of the environmental people here” Mr. Riley said. “It’s nice to help our environment when we can do our part.”