Using, recycling and giving back

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Paper, aluminum, plastic and cardboard are necessary resources used on a daily basis to complete tasks that would not be possible without them. Once used, they are usually thrown into a bin to await the process of recycling.

The 509th Force Support Squadron recycling center plays an important role in ensuring Whiteman is free of waste, and that base personnel help contribute to a cleaner environment, said Mark Davis, 509th FSS recycling center supervisor.

"Our job is to reduce the amount of material waste hauled by oil and fuel," said Davis. "Last year, we diverted 41 percent of the base's trash. Increasing the percentage of recycled material is ideal and can only be achieved with full participation. Our goal is to reduce the amount of waste the base has to send to the landfill."

Recycling can save any organization a great deal of money when compared to other disposal methods.

"Earlier this year, it cost a $100 a ton for the base to haul trash to the garbage contractor," said Jeff Willming, 509th FSS material examiner and identifier. "So for every ton that we recycle, we save the base $100. Last year, the whole recycling program diverted 1,045 tons, which include waste, oil and scrap metal. We made $216,000 for the base. Another part of our mission is to recycle as much paper, plastic, cardboard and aluminum as possible."

The recycling center also plays a key role in providing the base additional money by turning in recycled materials to companies for compensation, said Willming.
He added that this process must be accomplished in a way that keeps costs to a minimum.

"After all of our payroll and extent expenses have been covered, the rest of the money is returned to the base," said Willming."It stays right here in Whiteman, and is used to improve certain aspects and areas such as the rubber running track, batting cages and some of the restrooms at the baseball fields."

This serves a major benefit to Whiteman because with current budget cuts, the base has very limited options in acquiring these additional funds but through recycling. The more people recycle, the more money Whiteman receives.

The recycling center crew average 30 bales of cardboard, six bales of newspaper, four bales of office paper and a bale of plastic a month. When they have a truck-load of cardboard, newspaper and office paper bales, they have to take at least three bids from commodity brokers. The highest bidder will then send in a truck to get the bales and ship them to a purchasing company.

The recycling center crew operates heavy machinery and equipment, ranging from forklifts to conveyor belts, which can result in serious injury if used improperly.

"When dealing with machines, there is the possibility of getting crushed hands from working with large, metal bins," said Davis. "There is also the possibility of getting hit by an operating forklift if not aware, or the possibility of slips and falls from ladders and spillage from liquids within cans."

Despite the hazards, the recycling center crew enjoys assisting with bringing in money to the base to help make renovations for Airmen and their families, said Davis.

"I enjoy seeing the results of our job leading to the renovations that are being made to Whiteman," he said. "It lets me know that what I'm doing is giving back to the base and its Airmen."