Osan to sort it, bag it, drop it

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Sort it, bag it and drop it -- that is the goal of the new Osan Solid Waste Diversion and Recycling Program that will start Wednesday.

This purpose of the Air Force Solid Waste Diversion and Recycling Program is to:

- Divert solid waste from landfills and incinerators through reuse, recycling, composting, mulching or donating.

- Ensure integrated solid waste management programs provide an economic benefit.

With new 21 four-compartment bins and 75 recycling dumpsters being placed around the base, the 51st Fighter Wing's goal is to raise the current 15 percent diversion rate of trash from landfills to 30 percent.

Since 1990, the U.S. has improved dramatically in recycling activities. Recycling reports shows that the U.S. recycled roughly fifteen percent of waste materials fifteen years ago.

Today, it has doubled to thirty percent! The following recycling facts are some interesting information

- Over 40 percent of soft drink bottles are recycled as well as 40 percent of paper products.

- More than 50 percent of steel products and appliances are recycled.

- 20 years ago in the U.S. there was one curbside-recycling program. There are now over 10,000 with 12,000 drop of recycling sites

Korea made their own laws mandating recycling, similar to that in the United States, and sometimes more stringent. In 2002, the Korea Minister of Environment passed a law segregating noodle soup wrap and Styrofoam containers for recycling. Their laws to minimize re-useable materials filling-up landfills mandate this and other materials.

Diversion rate means the percentage of reusable materials removed from the trash before disposal or incineration. To meet this goal and reduce refuse disposal costs, Team Osan needs to invest time and effort to sort, bag and drop off recyclables at designated recycling dumpsters and four compartment recycling bins that are being strategically placed at high-traffic areas such as housing areas, the base exchange,
schools, base clubs, bus and AMC terminals, golf course, ball fields, etc.

"Members of Team Osan working and residing on Osan Air Base must participate and support the recycling program," said Lt. Col. Patrick Kelly, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "The sorting of recyclables will reduce disposal costs that continue to rise annually."

Products made by recycled material are used to make everyday materials. Some common things are paper towels, aluminum products and newspapers. Some unusual uses for recycled materials are plastic in carpeting and park benches like benches currently in our Town Center at the theater and Chili's, shoe laces and using recovered glass for paving roads.

The most important part in the recycling process is you- the consumer. As you buy recycled products and recycle them again, you continue the cycle full circle. We also need to keep introducing new materials into this cycle, because after a time, some materials can no longer be recycled. Paper can only be recycled seven times before the fibers get too small to use again. On the other hand, metals can be recycled and used for different types of metal products over and over.

Recycling could result in money coming back to Osan. The recyclable materials can be sold to recycling companies and the proceeds can be use for pollution prevention projects and quality of life initiatives.

Recycling companies buy recycled materials by weight (pounds). At Osan, current refuse generated over 9,000, tons or 18 million pounds per year. The cost of disposal is currently at $600,000 per year and will continue to rise. Imagine how much we could gain if 30 percent of the total trash is recycled and sold. Most important of all is Team Osan contributes in the minimization of new processed products from virgin ores and other natural resources.