Avoiding common recycling mistakes saves resources, revenue

Photo By Thomas Coney | Sarayuth Pinthong, 502d Air Base Wing (ABW) Public Affairs visual information chief, recycles a water bottle outside of the 502 ABW Multimedia Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, May 5, 2021. One way people can do their part to protect and transform the planet is by recycling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Thomas Coney)



Courtesy Story

502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs  

By Rachel Kersey | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Since 1970, the world has been commemorating Earth Day through the mobilization of ordinary people to protect and transform the planet.

While Earth Day has come and gone, the principles behind it are things people can put into practice year-round. At Joint Base San Antonio installations, one way people can do their part is by recycling.

“The dangers of not recycling – or not recycling properly – include waste of natural and man-made resources, increased landfill costs, loss of revenue for the Qualified Recycling Program, and fewer jobs created in the economy,” said Dr. Heather D. Hansen, an organometallic and analytical chemist and analyst for the JBSA Qualified Recycling Program, or QRP.

Following the guidelines for recycling is crucial, because even the slightest mistakes can ruin the mission.

For instance, to recycle a box that contained pizza, donuts, or other foods, you can only recycle the parts of the box that have no food residue.

“Place clean boxes or half-boxes in the designated recycling cart or cardboard trailer, and place the food-soiled parts in the trash can,” Hansen said.

“Foods, liquids, plastic bags, syringes, and other trash in a recycling bin can contaminate everything in that bin and render it unrecyclable through JBSA’s recycling centers,” Hansen said. “That entire bin becomes trash, which wastes your recycling efforts, increases solid waste disposal costs for JBSA, and decreases the JBSA QRP’s revenue. These contaminants can also damage recycling equipment and be dangerous for recycling personnel.”

To keep everyone safe, the same concept applies to jars, plastic bottles and aluminum cans. Empty and rinse these containers and, when pulling up to the 96-gallon recycling carts at your facility’s recycling center, follow all posted instructions.

“Place clean office paper into the cart for ‘Paper Only,’ plastics into the cart for ‘Plastics #1 and Plastics #2 Only,’” Hansen explained. “Flatten cardboard boxes and place them in the cart designated for ‘Cardboard Only,’ leave them neatly stacked next to other carts, or place them in designated cardboard trailers.”

When discarding ink and toner cartridges, do not put them in the same box.

“Place the old cartridge inside the box from the new replacement cartridge, tape the box shut, and label it ‘USED INK’ or ‘USED TONER,’” Hansen said. ”Leave it next to a recycling cart or call your installation’s recycling center to have it picked up.”

The phone numbers for JBSA recycling centers are: JBSA-Lackland, 210-671-4800; JBSA-Randolph, 210-889-1282; and JBSA-Sam Houston, 210-221-4888.

If concerned about recycling documents with Personally Identifiable Information or Protected Health Information, these papers should be placed in the locked grey bins only, which keeps this information secure. Papers without sensitive information go in the regular recycling carts.

“Avoid shredding before recycling,” Hansen said. “The small shreds made by office-size paper shredders are too small to stay compacted in the bales created at the JBSA recycling centers. Joint Base San Antonio Recycling shreds all paper in a manner that destroys the information and creates solid bales for shipping to a paper recycling mill.”

According to Hansen, recycling is very important because it reduces the need to make new raw materials, conserves natural resources and creates jobs.

For more information, call 210-671-5371.

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