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News > Recycling program aims to reduce base waste
Goals set for Keesler’s new recycling contractor
From left, Mr. Robertson, Duane Olson and Douglas Houle work to empty a cardboard recycling bin to prepare the cardboard for binding into bales. Zero Waste Solutions collects a variety of recyclables and sells it to local processing companies. Proceeds collected from the sale is given back to the government. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
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Recycling program aims to reduce base waste

Posted 9/19/2012   Updated 9/19/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Heather Heiney
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

9/19/2012 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- People who advocated and fought for the environment used to be thought of as "tree-huggers." Now, more and more people are becoming conscientious of their impact on the world and are taking steps to reduce or eliminate that impact.

The Keesler recycling center provides the base with an opportunity not only to reduce waste, but to bring in extra revenue to help advance the program.

Doug Smith, Zero Waste Solutions project manager, said that Keesler has a more than 50% diversion rate. This means of all the objects that may have ended up in landfills, more than half are being recycled instead. Charles Moore, supply contract manager for the recycling center, added that Keesler has the second-highest diversion rate after Joint Base Lackland.
The current Department of Defense recycling goal is 65% diversion by 2020; but Smith said his personal goal is to get the base to 75%.

"I would like to make Keesler the leader in recycling," Smith said.

He plans to achieve this goal by providing more education to the base populous and getting base leadership involved in spreading the word about recycling. He is also working with operational security managers to complete dumpster dives.

"We're stepping up our dumpster diving to see how many recyclables are being thrown into the dumpster," Smith said.

He explained that about 40-60% of items that could be recycled are currently being thrown away instead.

"The biggest thing is to get in the habit of recycling," Smith said. "Once you start it becomes second nature."

Each building has one location for recycling pick-up. Newspapers and magazines should be placed directly into recycling bins whereas cans, plastic bottles and shredded paper should be bagged and tied. This allows for easier transportation back to the recycling center.

"One thing we ask is keep paper clean and keep trash out of the cardboard bins," Smith said.

Recycling not only helps the base and the environment it can often help members of the local community -- Local farmers use food waste from the dining facilities as compost, the VA uses wood chips as mulch, the shredded paper often gets turned into paper towels and usable items such as furniture are sold to individuals with base access or to local organizations.

"All proceeds from the recycling center come back to Keesler," Smith said.

Moore said that the base has used some of those proceeds to purchase more than 250 shredders for different squadrons and units on base. These shredders are essential for compliance with Keesler's 100 % shred policy on all "white" paper. This policy not only increases recycling, it helps protect the security of the base. White paper can actually be any color that has information on it whether hand-written or printed, including sticky notes. Magazines and newspapers should not be shredded, but placed in appropriate recycling bins. Do not shred CDs and plastic or photos into the same container as "white" paper or the entire batch will be considered unrecyclable trash. There is a shredder available at the recycling center for anyone without a shredder or for high-volume jobs.

Items accepted by the recycling center include:
· Shredded paper
· Wood-based items
· Yard waste
· Electronic waste
· Mattresses
· Mixed plastics
· Concrete and dirt
· Pens
· Mixed paper
· Cardboard
· Mixed metal
· Used furniture
· Aluminum cans
· Toner cartridges

Items not accepted by the recycling center include:
· Light bulbs
· Batteries
· Wet paint
· Motor oil
· Chemicals

For more information call (228) 377-4546.

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