America Recycles Day: Think twice about trash

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- The 12th Annual America Recycles Day, a nationally recognized day to encourage people to recycle, is scheduled for Nov. 15. In recognition of the day, there are a few things Sabers can keep in mind to ensure they're doing their part. 

People have remarked that those living in base or government-leased housing don't have to recycle. However, that's not true. 

Recycling at Spangdahlem is mandatory in all housing, industrial and administrative areas to include military family housing, government-leased housing and dormitories. Although Spangdahlem no longer participates in the yellow bag program, recycling is still required for paper and glass, hazardous waste, clothing, and shoes. 

Bottom line: You are required to separate these items from the normal trash. 

To support the mandatory recycling policy, two base recycling centers are available: Bldg. 64 at Spangdahlem and Bldg. 2038 in the Bitburg Annex French Kaserne. 

Each BRC accepts a range of materials to include household hazardous materials and wastes, bulk items, paper, flattened cardboard, hard plastics, normal plastics, fluorescent bulbs, Styrofoam packing, color-sorted glass, scrap metal, treated and untreated wood items, clothes and shoes, yard waste, propane tanks, batteries, and all electronic appliances and devices. All items should be removed from bags before deposited in bins, especially the yard waste. All used automotive parts and fluids should be recycled at the Spangdahlem Auto Skills and Development Center in Bldg. 189. 

If in doubt, ask a BRC employee for help sorting items into appropriate bins or to ensure an item is recyclable. BRCs are not for the disposal of daily household trash. 

The BRC also operates a household hazardous materials loan locker. Products available free of charge include partially-used cleaning products, paints, solvents, lighter fluid and aerosol cans. 

So why don't base residents use yellow bags? 

Simply put, goods purchased on the economy, identified by the "Green Dot" on the packaging, require a recycling fee paid by the manufacturer. Since the American community purchases many goods in the commissary and base exchange, no fees are paid. For refuse collectors on the economy, it's difficult to distinguish American from German homes, so it is more economical for them to allow American families to use the yellow bag system. 

Wittlich County does accept yellow bags within Binsfeld housing; however, Bitburg County has chosen to not accept yellow bags within Spangdahlem, Bitburg or Speicher housing. 

Sometimes, if a dumpster looks too full or when a bag is really heavy, people just set it beside the bin. Those people may think it's the trash collector's job to pick up all trash, but that isn't the case. 

The contractor isn't obligated to collect trash outside bins. If they are overfilled, additional bins have to be delivered at an additional cost. Bags or bulky items are not allowed around or on top of dumpsters, and lids must remain closed to keep out rain and snow.
 
Our Eifel Pride team is in charge of base beautification, not cleaning up dumpster areas. When they are diverted to clean these areas, it detracts from their primary mission of keeping the main base looking good. We have a well-kept base, so please help us keep it that way. 

Please note disposal of garbage from any off-base residence in base dumpsters qualifies as fraud, waste and abuse. Off-base residents receive a utility allowance that includes coverage for refuse. Persons discarding garbage unlawfully will be reported to authorities and supervisors, and may even have the pleasure of re-sorting all trash in the container. 

If you find yourself asking what you can do to help, one thing would be to cut down on the use of plastic shopping bags. Leave some inexpensive canvas bags in your vehicle and next time you go shopping, take them along. Be sure to thoroughly rinse recyclable items for disposal. Recycle your newspaper. Avoid buying non-recyclable items. Clean clothing and shoes not donated to the Airman's Attic or Thrift Shop can go to one of the many Red Cross collection points around base, the BRC or the local community. 

The purpose of recycling is to collect reusable materials to create new goods. To close the recycling loop, look for products made with recycled content. By purchasing goods made from recyclables, the whole recycling system becomes more economically viable. 

For questions or more information, check out www.americarecyclesday.org or contact the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron at 452-5125.