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Be Green with Blue bins

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Joseph R. Stahl
  • 178th Fighter Wing
    We've all seen those unmistakable blue plastic bins with the arrows forming the shape of a triangle on them, and we have all heard about the new single-stream recycling dumpsters here on base, but do we really understand what the fuss is all about?
     Our base recycling program is much more than just throwing your papers and soda cans in your recycling bin; it is a program designed to reduce hazardous waste, take care of our environment and save money.
     Maj. Vincent E. Roberts and Becky S. Babjak, environmental specialists, manage this expansive program here. They are assigned to the 178th Civil Engineering Squadron.
     Air Force Instruction 32-7080, Pollution Prevention Program,
states, "Each installation will strive to recycle as much of the solid
waste stream as possible." This includes reduction through recycling and diverting through other means. This regulation, along with several executive orders, lays the foundation for our program here.
     So the Air Force is making us recycle now. Many wonder how big of a difference we actually are making.
     There are financial benefits to recycling. We get paid for recycling scrap metal and construction waste. Other items are removed at no cost, and others we have to pay to be removed. Figures vary widely month-to-month and any profits that do come from this program go directly into the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation fund here. 
     Even though on paper, the recycling program may not appear to consistently make money, there is cost savings in having to remove fewer dumpsters filled with trash. For example, to dispose of cardboard through recycling is approximately half as expensive as removing it through a trash dumpster.
     Some choose not to recycle simply because it's not convenient. If your choice is between tossing something in the trash can next to your desk, or walking across the office to recycle, you may choose the trash can.
     Making recycling convenient is the key to a successful program.
     According to Mrs. Babjak, funds are available for more recycling bins or whatever you may need to make recycling more convenient in your work area. Convenience does not need to be an excuse for not recycling.
     Yes, we are mandated by Air Force instructions and executive orders to recycle, but the benefits of recycling go beyond just saving the government a few dollars.
     Pro-Act Fact Sheet TI#6388 states, "Recycling aids in minimizing the amount of solid waste in landfills." The Ohio Department of Natural Resources web site lists energy savings, pollution reduction, landfill space conservation and the creation of industry and jobs as a few of the many benefits of recycling.
     According to Mrs. Babjak, our unit is beginning to embrace the recycling program. Trash dumpsters are being filled more slowly and recycle dumpsters more quickly. The culture of our unit slowly changing, and more of us are beginning to think about where to pitch our empty soda can before we just toss it in the trash can.
     Organizations within our unit have embraced this program corporately, now it's your turn. Make it a part of your routine and make it convenient for your co-workers. We all need to do our part in being good stewards of the environment. Not just because we are mandated, but also for our own good; and for our children's future.