New recycling initiative makes Misawa greener

Base Info
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Patrick S. Ciccarone
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Patrick S. Ciccarone

New recycling initiative makes Misawa greener

by: Airman 1st Class Patrick S. Ciccarone, 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs | .
Misawa Air Base | .
published: May 17, 2014

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 35th Civil Engineer Squadron operations flight is enacting a new recycling plan for on-base housing residents and squadrons, not only to save money, but to improve the environment for Airmen and their families here.
Currently, Misawa has over 10 Japanese contracted workers who collect, sift and sort through trash and recycling of users and residents on base. With the new recycling campaign, the 35 CES hopes to reduce the amount of manning needed for waste collection and streamline the process for how it is collected and disposed.

"What we're trying to do is change the way we recycle and sort waste," said 1st Lt. Akira Nervik, chief of  the 35 CES operations engineering. "We're going to have users, both at home and in the workplace, sort their waste into different categories of recycling and trash."

On base, there are currently just two categories of collection - trash and recyclables. The 35 CES intends to separate all waste into six different categories which will be stored in clear plastic bags for inspection.

"As we move forward, clear plastic bags are going to be the standard for collection purposes," Nervik said. "We're already working with organizations like the Defense Commissary Agency, Army and Air Force Exchange Service, and General Services Administration to make sure they have enough clear plastic bags in stock for residents and facility managers."

Recyclables and waste will be sorted into six types of categories:
Combustible trash, which can be burned but not recycled
Non-combustible, which will include items like ceramics or pots and pans
Plastic, with only the designated triangular PETE or PET 1 marking found on the bottom of containers
Metal, aluminum and cans
Glass products
Cardboard and paper

With a proposed contract start date of February 2015, contractors will begin leaving trash behind if it isn't properly sorted, so the 35 CES urges users to begin sorting properly as soon as possible. By starting to properly sort now, Misawa can begin saving money before the project officially kicks off in 2015.

The base will ultimately be able to cut down on manning hours the contractor requires, in addition to saving up to $250,000 this year, and even more long-term, noted Nervik.

"If we, as a community, start practicing well in advance, it will give residents and users significant time to adjust," said Nervik. "We can use this time to monitor and educate personnel how to sort properly."

Waste and recycling collection will continue with the same pick-up schedule, and squadrons are still required to provide the proper receptacles to house the assorted waste inside their facilities.

The 35 CES will be notified by the contractor on a weekly basis to report the units or areas where they had to leave trash behind, explained Nervik.

The new recycling initiative aims to emulate the way Japanese off base sort trash and waste. By integrating these methods, Misawa AB hopes to continue a strong relationship with the local community - notions backed by 35th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Stephen Williams.

"By mandating that all personnel recycle properly, both at home and at the work place, people will develop good habits that apply not only to their time here at Misawa, but for wherever they are next," said Kazuko Morita, the 35 CES refuse service contract representative. "These good practices show the local community that Americans responsibly dispose of their trash and respect their common practices."

Tags: Misawa Air Bae, Base Info
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