Recycling: conserve resources for future generations
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE, Guam -- Recycling hasn't been around as long as the Earth, but it's a sure step in the right direction for preserving the environment to make the natural beauty of this planet last a little longer.
Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, known for its active mission in supporting the Asia-Pacific theater, is also known for its location on an island with limited space and resources, making it even more important for Airmen to recycle and conserve resources for future generations.
"I recycle every day because it's my way of keeping this place beautiful for the future," said Staff Sgt. Heather Iselin, 36th Force Support Squadron lodging front desk supervisor. "I do it for my children too, because I don't want them growing up somewhere where trash still gets washed up on the beach. It teaches them to be responsible."
To support this eco-friendly initiative, Andersen has a robust recycling program, which is continually evolving. The program started in 1994, allowing people to recycle aluminum cans and cardboard in industrial areas. Year-to-year changes included adding more recycling bins around the base, building the Arc Light Recycling Center in 1997, curbside pickup at military family housing, and adding paper, glass, and plastic to the recyclables.
"People want to see more recycling," said Russell Grossley, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental management systems director. "It's just a matter of continuing to educate people about the necessity of recycling and providing them with the avenues to be able to do it."
To date, Andersen AFB is No. 1 for recycling on the island, with 58 percent of waste going to recycling centers instead of landfills, which beats the national average of 34 percent. The base recycling center processes more than 700 tons annually, resulting in approximately $800,000 of cost avoidance, which would have been spent to send those resources to a landfill.
To make recycling more effective on the island, the rest of the solid waste goes through a transfer station off base before it goes to the landfill. There, each truckload is evaluated and if it has too many recyclables, it is returned to the base for further sorting, though this has yet to happen for Andersen.
"Recycling saves money in manpower that it would cost to operate a landfill, it's cheaper for companies to reuse recycled materials than raw materials, it saves money, it saves trees, and it saves the life of a landfill which would alleviate the need for more landfills," Grossley said. "And we check our waste twice to make sure we get all the good stuff out for recycling -- we check it here before it leaves the base, and then it gets checked at the transfer station off base before it heads down to the landfill."
There are nearly 1,400 recycling bins located in military family housing, along with 95 large recycling containers located in industrial areas by work centers and the recycling center which provides plenty of opportunities for everyone on base to recycle. Recyclables accepted on base include cardboard (except wax-coated or greasy), any color glass or paper, aluminum, and plastic (types 1 and 2).
"The only mistake people can make is to not recycle, and if you're not doing it then you're not doing the right thing when you have all these easy avenues," Grossley said. "It doesn't get any easier than this. You have to make it part of your life and it will come second-nature to you. It's up to each person to do the right thing, but we're also each other's keepers and we can use the 'wingman concept' if someone isn't recycling. And when it becomes a part of that person's life, they will pass that down to their children and it will continue to conserve resources for future generations."