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Don't throw it out - Send it to the recycling center

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kris Levasseur
  • 48 FW Public Affairs
Environmental concerns are a big issue on most military installations. Without proper recycling programs, millions of dollars worth of resources would be wasted, and RAF Lakenheath is no exception. Fortunately the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron has environmental stewardship covered.

The recycling center accepts a wide variety of recyclable material. The center collects thousands of pounds of cardboard, aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic, scrap metal and many other items each week.

According to Master Sgt. Shaun Elliot, 48th CES environmental flight superintendent, recycling doesn't just save RAF Lakenheath money, it saves valuable space in landfills.

The Liberty Wing boasts one of the biggest recycle programs in U.S. Air Forces in Europe. "The amount of recyclables that we process varies from season to season, but on average, we divert $150,000 worth of trash a year, and earn about $100,000 a year," said Sergeant Elliot.

The 48th CES is dedicated to providing the best available service. The recycling staff has placed recycling bins at various locations throughout RAFs Feltwell and Lakenheath, each properly labeled for the products that should be placed in them. In addition, they provide pickup for many of the facilities on base.

After the recycled material is collected, it is sorted and processed. This is done by hand and by using specialized equipment to compress the materials.

"On occasion we find things that don't belong in the recycling," said Sergeant Elliot. "Our biggest problem is finding hazardous waste in the recycling bins.

" Most of the recycled material the environmental flight processes is sold locally. Each recyclable item fetches a different price.

"A large part of our revenue comes from recycled cans," said Rod Barrett, 48th CES.

According to AFI 32-7080, Pollution Prevention Program, recycling is mandatory on military installations. The 48th CES has taken recycling to a new level by exceeding the standards, proven when they won the 2006 General Thomas D. White Recycling Award for the Non-Industrial Division.

"Ninety-eight percent of what people throw out can be recycled, and it should. If people would take the time to recycle, it would make my job a lot harder, but in the long run it would be better for the environment and it would be better for RAF Lakenheath," said Sergeant Elliot.