Recycling: Do it on Base!

  • Published
  • By Judy Mott
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

As the saying goes, every gray cloud has a silver lining.

Recently, Balfour Beatty, the base’s privatized housing company made the hard decision to forego their residential recycling program. However, through a combined effort between 97th Air Mobility Wing leaders and Balfour Beatty, the Altus Air Force Base recycling center will allow the recycling effort to continue. So, in this case, Altus Air Force Base’s silver lining is its very own recycling program.

“The Balfour Beatty Communities recycling program continued for a decade on Altus AFB. Approximately 4 million pounds of refuse was diverted from landfills and recycled,” said Earl Johnson, Balfour Beatty community manager. “Unfortunately, new and more severe restrictions were placed upon recycling service providers. As a result, the majority of recycling items were no longer authorized and resident participation severely declined.“

In addition, the economics surrounding local recycling efforts have shifted over time, making it financially unsustainable for the program to continue as it had been.

Some may not realize that the base recycling center and Balfour Beatty’s residential pick-up were not one entity. Residential recyclables were not being brought to the on-base center. The AAFB recycling center’s contract manager, Mickey Lyles, said the base’s recycling center is still here, going strong and happy to help those who still want to recycle.

“Our recycling program is very good, and we have all the tools. It’s just up to people on base to want to do it.”

The recycling center, which is located in building 400 just past the outdoor recreation facility, is actually government mandated. Any government installation with more than 100 employees is required to recycle paper and cardboard, and everything that comes through the center comes back to Altus AFB in the form of dollars to pay for the center’s operation and maintenance expenses.

To Mark Painter, 97th Civil Engineer Squadron integrated solid waste program manager, it’s more than just a mandate.

“We encourage use of our recycling services to everyone that has base access,” he said. “Help the planet. Do good. Feel good.”

Both Painter and Lyles feel the biggest challenge for residents, who were used to having one single recycling bin, is that they must now separate their recyclables. The center has three full-time employees with two members solely focused on recyclable materials, but they say the system is just too cumbersome if people do not “sort at the source.” They encourage families to have different sorting bins and to choose one day a week to be their recycle day.

“Choose a day, like a trash pick-up day, and it’s just a short drive,” Painter said. “However, it’s going to take sorting at the source to do things 100%. So do it right, be responsible, and don’t mix your items. Then everything is so much better. And we’re keeping things out of landfills.”

Painter and Lyles encourage base employees to utilize the blue bins outside office buildings and base patrons to take advantage of the cardboard recycle trailers throughout base. The recycling center has drop off bins that are available 24 hours a day. During the work day, people may stop by to recycle printer cartridges and all rechargeable batteries.

At this time, the center does not accept electronics, but will take used appliances for scrap metal. The main household items they accept are: plastics #1 (soda, water, salad dressing bottles, etc.) and #2 (milk jugs, shampoo and conditioner bottles, etc.), all paper, aluminum cans, tin cans, and cardboard. Plastics should be bagged to help prevent spillage.

To ask a question, or to request a particular bin to use in a work center, call the recycling center at 580-481-7698.