QRP leadership explains recycling benefits
By 1st Lt. Kay M. Nissen, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 12, 2013
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- With the current fiscal environment in mind, military members are consistently asked to take initiatives to save money and streamline processes. The Qualified Recycle Program at Osan Air Base is one of those programs that can improve not only the fiscal environment, but the community's environment as a whole. In an interview with Song Kun Kwon, QRP lead, Kwon took time to explain the recycling process and how an Airman's actions in recycling now can return as an Airman's reward in the future.
Q: For the most part, Airmen understand that recycling will help the environment. But the rumor is that Osan already has a contractor that sorts trash from the base to be recycled. So why should an Airman take the extra step to recycle if it's going to be taken care anyways?
A: The contractor we have hired does sort our trash for recyclables off base, but it's the action that occurs on base that actually helps us financially. Essentially two piles are created on base. One includes the items that Airmen have sorted as recyclable and we get credit for everything in that pile. The other pile is what Airmen have decided is trash. That trash pile is then taken off base to a contractor who sorts through the trash for recyclables. If anything in that pile is (found) to be recyclable, we as a base do not get credit for it.
We have found that almost 60 percent of what is put into the trash pile is actually recyclable. That's a lot of recyclable items we don't get credit for because Airmen didn't take the time to separate a few cans or plastic bottles.
Q: When you talk about getting credit, what does that mean?
A: The recyclables are valuable (because) contractors are supposed to reimburse the government for the recyclables that we segregate.
Q: What do the savings end up being on average per year?
A: Per year, it is probably $120,000. I expect that if we segregated (more), we would probably receive $250,000. Usually, there are more recyclables found in the trash than found in the recyclable container.
Q: The money that we receive back, where does it go?
A: The money goes to the QRP account. That money will be used for recyclable promotion items like purchasing recycling containers and recycling projects. Half of the recycling (savings) can be used for construction projects and pollution prevention projects. If we save more than $2 million, we give money to the National Treasury.
Q: What's a specific example of something we have today because of the QRP account?
A: We provided the money to purchase a foreign object debris cannon for the flight line. We also provided money to continue the recycling contract and for the end-of-UCI party for everyone on base.
Essentially the savings we receive helps with infrastructure for the base and continuing our ability to recycle and accumulate more funds for the base.
Q: What exactly does an Airman have to do to participate in this program?
A: It's simple. They just need to take the time to separate their recyclables from their non-recyclables and put them in the appropriate container.
Each building (on base) has indoor recycling, and outdoor recycling areas are available near most facilities.
The QRP isn't just for Airmen. Civilians, spouses, dependents and visitors at Osan can participate as well. The QRP team will continue to raise awareness on recycling benefits throughout the year, and are planning awareness activities for America Recycles Day, Nov. 15.