Reminding Airmen of the importance of recycling

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Washburn
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
America Recycles Day is Nov. 15 and was established to remind Americans of the importance of recycling. D-M understands this importance and currently has a recycling program at the recycling center here. Still, there are some Airmen who need a friendly reminder on how they can do their part.

"The whole reason for recycling is to reduce solid waste, it's what we call diversion," said Mr. Joe Uremovich, 355th Civil Engineer Squadron base recycling program manager. "We have near a 40 percent diversion rate at D-M, but we would like to get to 50 percent. The goal is to help the environment and lessen our need of landfills."

The recycling program used to be funded by Air Combat Command. Due to fiscal constraints, funding ceased. Now it's up to the recycling facility to make enough money to take care of itself.

"The bulk of our money now comes from scrap metal and used oil," Uremovich said. "That's what keeps us going. It helps fit the bill for all the other recycled material because we have to pay to have that removed. We get a little back, but it's not nearly as much as we need to cover costs."

Because the recycling center funds itself, it's important for anyone bringing in material to ensure it's put in the right dumpsters. Gone are the days of having to separate glass from plastic or paper from cardboard. Everything paper related goes in one dumpster while glass and plastics bottles, and aluminum cans can go in another. It's up to the individual to do the right thing and put the material in the right dumpster.

"The biggest problem that I have is people not reading the signs on the side of the dumpsters," Uremovich said. "If someone puts something in the dumpster that doesn't belong and it contaminates the container, we lose all the recyclables. I put up flyers with information on what people can recycle, but it's really up to the offices on base and the people to make the effort."

Recycling on D-M is not just a good idea, it's mandatory. A memorandum for all D-M personnel and tenant units was signed by Col. John Cherrey, 355th Fighter Wing commander which states that Federal law and Department of Defense instructions require recycling and waste reduction for all individuals on D-M.

As the saying goes, "the proof is in the pudding" and D-M gets results. In fiscal year 2011, D-M recycled about 884 tons of material, Uremovich said. But there is always room to improve and it's up to all Airmen to pitch in and take responsibility.

"We kept all that material out of landfills last year. Recycling really has an impact and some people don't realize that," Uremovich said. "Fortunately, there are a lot of people on this base who are intent on recycling. I have to give credit where it's due. It's the Airmen out there who make the difference, they're the unsung heroes."

The following are a few statistics from Joe Uremovich on the effect of recycling. As a reminder, last year the base recycled 884 tons of material. This example is based off the impact of recycling just one ton of paper:

· Saves approximately 17 trees

· Saves enough energy to power the average home for six months

· Eliminates three cubic yards of landfill material and reduces the need for more landfill space

· Saves 7,000 gallons of water

· Protects natural resources from being wasted

· Saves taxpayers money on waste disposal

For more information on recycling or how to help out, contact Joe Uremovich at 228-2296.