Recycling and refuse collection issues

  • Published
  • By Tom Weirauch
  • 55th Civil Engineering Squadron
I recently received a phone call from the base refuse collection contractor about two very important points. The first is the sudden reduction of cardboard recycling and the second, the danger and excess cost of contaminating a recycling or refuse dumpster.

Both of these concerns affect all of us here at Offutt as recycling is directed by the 55th Wing, as well as higher headquarters. Every one of us needs to be good stewards of the environment so the generations that follow can enjoy the awesome country we enjoy in its natural beauty.
One area of grave concern is the waste we generate.

Our contractor informed me this week's weight for cardboard recycling was 1,000 pounds. That may seem like a lot to some people and it's a lot if you're talking about "the Biggest Loser" but not a recycling effort. We usually have recycling weights in excess of three tons or 6,000 pounds a week. The poundage from this week doesn't even cover the transportation costs incurred by the contractor.

The 55th Civil Engineering Squadron's Environmental Office is starting a new base-wide recycling program and I call on the entire Offutt community to support our recycling efforts. One simple way to do this is to flatten cardboard boxes and use the appropriate cardboard dumpsters. However, recycling cardboard is only the beginning as more information about the program will follow in the coming weeks and months.

Another concern the contractor raised during our conversation was the load of cardboard was contaminated. The cardboard recycling dumpster at the Capehart Shopette had two wooden pallets, a crushed metal wardrobe and miscellaneous scrap lumber mixed in with recyclables. While the contaminants I listed are recyclable, they're not recyclable at the cardboard recycler. The driver had to clean out the contaminants before the recycler would accept the material. Needless to say, that's not the driver's job and it cost the contractor extra money for time and effort.

This brings to mind another issue that concerns safety. Pallets and scrap lumber aren't allowed in the base refuse dumpsters. We have pulled a rash of pallets from dumpsters because of the danger they pose to refuse collection drivers. When large heavy items like pallets get hung up and don't fall out of the dumpster when it's inverted, they can fall when the dumpster is lowered. The contractor has also had several windshields broken because of falling pallets.
If you have pallets to dispose of, call 294-4087.

In addition to being good stewards of the environment, I ask every member of Team Offutt to report any abuses they witness no matter how trivial. Be especially vigilant in the Capehart area as many violations occur there. Remember, our refuse collection contractor isn't expected to police areas that are our responsibility.