By Dee Christain
Plans, Analysis and Integration Office
Fort Detrick is a leading organization in recycling with nearly 45 percent of the overall waste being recycled. Do you recycle? Many people will answer this question quickly…why, yes, they say.
But are the employees of Fort Detrick really recycling? Let's take a look at a trash can at a typical Fort Detrick employee's workplace.
How about the plastic grocery bag you got during your last visit to the store?
Is that recyclable?
According to a list published by the U.S. Army Garrison Environmental Office, #4 grocery bags are recyclable.
A number of items you may have brought with in your lunch are recyclable.
Let's take a look - a quick and easy can of soup, a sandwich in a paper wrapping, a bottle of water and an apple.
You heat up the can of soup in a ceramic mug you keep in your desk drawer. Great!
After you empty the soup into the mug, you toss it the can in the trash can. Not so great!
The can and lid are recyclable. They should be rinsed out and placed in the plastics/cans recycling bin.
The paper sandwich wrapper may be recyclable. It depends if it has any food stuck on it.
After you drink the bottle of water, you toss it in the recycling bin. Good job!
But wait, the cap on the bottle is not recyclable and should be removed and placed in the trash can. The apple is delicious!
What should you do with the core, though? Yep. The trash can.
After lunch, you wipe your mouth on a paper towel from the restroom. Is that recyclable? No. According to Mark Dressler, supervisor of Garrison Solid Waste Management, personal hygiene items are not recyclable.
"As a general rule we do not take anything considered a personal hygiene item (paper towels, Kleenex, napkins, etc.).
Paper plates and cups are a 'gray' area. If it has any deposits on it, it is considered trash."
Part of the reason is the resale value of the recyclable products.
"Our paper buyers grade the quality of fiber on the level of contamination (anything that is not fiber) in the product," said Dressler, "so while we might accumulate a larger percentage of recycling by accepting things that are border line, in the long run we could cut the value of the material we produce and receive less for more."
So we've learned a little bit about what is recyclable. Back at work, you finish the presentation for tomorrow's briefing. You print off a copy to show your supervisor.
Wait a minute!
Does your supervisor require a printed copy? Email it or save it to the public drive to review electronically.
If you have to print copies, select the option to print on both sides of the paper and print 3 to 6 slides per page saving toner as well as paper. Conserving monetary resources is just as important as recycling.
Next, Fed-Ex delivers a package of supplies that you ordered for the office. You open the box, remove the supplies and empty the packing peanuts into the trash.
As a steward of the environment, you break down the box for recycling. But the packing peanuts are reusable and should be taken to the freight office in building 243 for reuse.
The day is almost over and you decide to spend a few minutes straightening up your desk. Under some papers you find a compact disc that a vendor sent you. You shred it just to be safe.
The shards - recycling or trash?
Dressler said that CDs and DVDs are an unclassified plastic.
"That means they do not carry the recycling symbol with a classification number in the center," he said.
"While some processes can use the plastic as a fill material, it cannot be reused to make new CDs."
So now that we know how to recycle most materials, why should we go through the extra work? What's in it for me? If I recycle today, what will it do for me?
Recycling, reducing and reusing material benefits everyone - society, the economy, and the environment.
Individually, those who recycle will see a reduction in the cost of certain goods because it costs less to reproduce them with recycled materials.
Individuals who choose to "reuse" materials such as clothing, household goods and other materials can reap monetary benefits by consigning items in the second-hand stores like Fort Detrick's Thrift Shop or by seeing a tax break for charitable contributions if they donate them.
On the social level, putting less trash into landfills will make for a cleaner environment for everyone.
Buying products that have less packaging creates less garbage.
Using cloth grocery bags to go shopping reduces the need for plastic bags and at some stores, will net the consumer money back for going green.
On an economic level, people who recycle will help to create more jobs for neighbors and friends.
According to Eco-Cycle, Inc.'s Top Ten Reasons to Recycle, (http://www.ecocycle.org/tidbits/ecocycletenreasons.pdf), for every job at a landfill, there are 10 jobs in recycling processing and 25 jobs in recycling based manufacturing.
The recycling industry currently employs more workers than the auto industry.
Recycling ultimately saves fossil fuels ensuring that future generations will be able to sustain life as we know.
The world has a finite supply of fossil fuels and unless we conserve, reuse and recycle, the world as we know it could become a very dark and desolate place.
It is often said, "I'm just one person. What I do doesn't make a difference!"
But what each individual does will make a difference.
Imagine each person working on Fort Detrick moving just one piece of "trash" from the garbage can to the recycling bin.
That would mean some 10,000 items would be diverted from the landfill or incinerator to be turned into green.
Think about it. What's in your trash can?
The US Army Garrison Environmental Management Office provides the following list of recyclable materials and the points of contact for each.
Please do your part by recycling.
Through DPW/Mark Dressler
- aluminum and steel
- all grades including newspapers, magazines, glossy mailers, paperboard (like granola bar boxes and cereal boxes), etc.
#1 (ex. Drink containers, lotion bottles, etc.),
#2 (milk jugs and paint cans)
#3 (PVC) and
#4 (grocery bags and air packing pillows)
- Metals - any type
- Wooden pallets
Through HMMO/Joe Gortva
- Batteries - all types (rechargables, alkalines, lead-acid, etc)
- Cellular Phones
- Fluorescent Light Tubes/CFLs
- Toner cartridges should go back to manufacturer using provided envelopes in original purchasing container as a first line, then if unable to do that, they can be given to HMMO
Through Auto Hobby Shop (if changed there)
- used motor oil
Through Freight Office
- packing peanuts for reuse/reissueThe US Army Garrison Environmental Management Office provides the following list of recyclable materials and the points of contact for each. Please do your part by recycling.