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Base program diverts recyclables from landfill

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tong Duong
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Imagine putting trash into a machine and getting cash for it. Would you do it?

There are no tricks or gimmicks. Airmen on Luke Air Force Base have discovered their recycling program can benefit offices, the base, local community and environment.

"There are programs on base that can benefit members through materials collected and sold directly to local recyclers and ultimately kept out of local landfills," said Oscar Mabry, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Natural Resource Management Flight material management chief.

Such programs include Cash for Cans. An aluminum can recycling machine is located in the parking lot across from the base library. The machine pays directly for cans deposited. Other collection areas exist around base for depositing alkaline batteries, fluorescent lights, printer and copier cartridges, cell phones, wood pallets, cardboard and paper products.

A major command directive mandated the base to redirect 40 percent of its rubbish from the local landfill by 2010. Luke is well on its way to meeting the goal, Mr. Mabry said.

"For the last three quarters we have redirected an average of 26 percent of Luke's waste," he said. "We participate with the local community in activities like the Tres Rios Nature and Earth Festivities, Valley Wide Recycle Program and educating youth and base members about the importance of recycling."

In the second quarter the recycling program at Luke has saved more than 2.5 tons of alkaline batteries; seven tons of industrial plastic; 13 tons of paper products, such as newspaper, magazines and telephone books; 10 tons of wood donated to the arts and craft shop on base; six tons of non-hazardous waste. Base members also donated reusable items to the local community, such as toner cartridges for Habitat For Humanity and latex paint to local police departments for graffiti removal.

"I think we're on the right track," Mr. Mabry said.

Annually Luke has kept more than 240 tons of material from the local landfill that would normally be thrown away.

Through sales of recyclable material the base generated more than $239,000 in the last three quarters, half of which will be used to fund environmental recycling and education programs and the other half to fund morale, welfare and recreation programs at Luke.