Kadena residents, units reminded to separate recyclables, use clear bags

Base Info
U.S. Air Force graphic by Naoko Shimoji
U.S. Air Force graphic by Naoko Shimoji

Kadena residents, units reminded to separate recyclables, use clear bags

by: Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman, 18th Wing Public Affairs | .
Kadena Air Base | .
published: August 09, 2014

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- As part of a revision to the recycling and refuse collection program that began Oct. 1, 2013, islandwide base housing residents and Kadena units are required to meet several rules for the program.

However, some of the requirements, such as completely separating recyclables and using only clear trash bags for both refuse and recycling, have not been fully met by participants.

"The biggest problem right now is people not sorting into separate clear bags," said Vince Adams, 718th Civil Engineer Squadron solid waste manager. "The next problem would be people throwing away dirty recyclables. For example food containers are still coated with food ... labels and lids aren't removed. All of that's done by hand afterward, so it's better to separate them beforehand."

Adams said that while it's important to recycle, it's more important to recycle properly. Improper sorting or using non-clear bags will ultimately lead to the bags being left by the collectors.

"We're still producing 15,000kg of refuse from recyclables each month," he said. "Their refuse won't get picked up if it has obvious recyclables in it."

In addition to not being picked up, each piece of rejected refuse or recycling will receive a new, green recycling rejection notice - a sticker formatted to better inform residents why their recyclables weren't picked up.

The goal for the notices is to residents a better understanding of the requirements, which are as follows:

Recyclables need to be separated into plastics, metals, glass, green waste like grass clippings, paper and cardboard boxes, which must be flattened.

Furthermore, automotive batteries, electronic waste, large scrap metal pieces, and tree branches less than 6 feet in length do not require bagging and can be left curbside or taken to the recycle center, located at Bldg. 871 near Karing Kennels.

Tires, large propane cylinders, motor oil, antifreeze and filters should be taken to an auto hobby shop or an Army and Air Force Exchange Service Station.

Paint and excess household chemicals, toner cartridges, fluorescent bulbs, and NiCad, Lithium and Alkaline batteries (with taped terminals) can be taken to an Eagle Hardware self-help facility or the 718th CES environmental office (building 3623) near gate 4. Batteries may also be placed in specifically-labeled bins at the Kadena Exchange front entrance.

Adams said that the biggest reason for changes to the program stems from costly refuse fees - evident in the $5.6 million refuse disposal bill for fiscal year 2013.

Using the recycling program is a major component in cost deterrent for refuse. During fiscal 2013, the diversion rate was only 22.91 percent - the lowest it had been in four years.   

On the other hand, the average diversion rate so far in fiscal 2014 has been 33.78 percent, with a leap to 46.55 percent diversion during the third quarter of the fiscal year - the highest it's ever been. This program has saved the base roughly $1.2 million while generating $450,000 from the sale of recyclable materials.

However, Adams said that money doesn't just disappear. Rather, it pays for the Recycle Center itself and goes back into base programs such as environmental, safety or Morale, Welfare and Recreation Adams said.

The Air Forcewide goal for recycling is 55 percent by the end of calendar year 2015 and 65 percent by 2020.

For more information on the recycle program, visit www.facebook.com/KadenaRecyclingProgram or https://afpims.dma.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-140806-001.pdf, or call the 718th CES environmental office at DSN 634-5425.