51st CES stresses the importance of recycling
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average person generates 4.5 pounds of trash every day and nearly 1.5 tons of solid waste per year. An estimated 75 percent of solid waste is recyclable, yet only 30 percent is actually recycled. Here at Osan Air Base, that same issue is becoming increasingly evident.
By raising awareness of proper disposal methods and encouraging members to recycle, the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron solid waste recycling program hopes to change the previous habits seen on base.
"Currently Osan has a huge problem with unauthorized dumping," said Ronald Augustin, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron contracting officer representative. "Construction debris, material from masonry, scrap metal and furniture, along with chemicals, are being left by trash bins opposed to be taken to the recycling center, where bulky items and certain materials should be discarded. Contractors are not able to take these items."
Recyclables are materials that still have useful physical or chemical properties after serving their original purpose and can be reused or remanufactured into new products. Collecting recyclables reduces waste disposal costs and helps save the environment.
"You can recycle cardboard, plastic bottles, cans as well as scrap metal," Augustin said. "These items can be bagged and put in the recycle dumpsters, which are the brown bins all over the base or taken to the recycling center at Bldg. 833 next to the hazardous waste collection point."
Units and individuals on Osan are asked to be weary of unauthorized dumping and to ensure items are being disposed of properly or taken to the designated location. By correctly recycling, the installation will profit thousands of dollars. The money can then be used for needed enhancements throughout the installation.
"Every month we average $5,000 in proceeds from recyclables," said David Moysey, 51st CES solid waste recycling program manager. "When it comes to the trash, our Korean contractors cannot segregate the recyclables, so we end up losing all of those items and all of the funds that we could receive. The items being thrown away value about $10,000, so if we could get everyone to recycle more, we would actually be profiting. The base saves money by reducing the weight of trash, which could be done simply by separating."
Members of the solid waste recycling program are hoping to institute new initiatives in the future to influence the base to be more proactive in recycling, such as using funds to purchase separation bins for each room in the dorms.
"It has to be a cultural change here on the base," Moysey said. "I've seen a lot of improvement over the last few years but we still have a long way to go. It's not that hard to recycle -- to separate your recyclables from the trash. If everyone gets involved, not only are we helping the environment, but we can also use the proceeds for base improvement, cleanliness and upgrading the trash collection process."