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CLEARED FOR TAKE OFF
AIR FORCE TARGETS 50 PERCENT DIVERSION
E MUST quickly move
Base recycling and composting programs are gearing up for the challenge of cutting the total Air Force waste stream in half by
Newspapers and glass boitles are collected as part of the Resource Recovery and Recycling program at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.
away from dependence on hazardous materials? actively reduce our waste s t r e a m s , reuse t h e wastes we do generate, recycle what we cannot reuse, and expand purchasing programs for recycled products," notes a January, 1993 Memorandum to Commanders from General Merrill McPeak, United State Air Force Chief of Staff, and Donald Rice, then Secretary of the Air Force. The memo accompanied distribution of a "Pollution Prevention Program Action Plan" which also addresses ways the Air Force can reduce its use of hazardous materials and minimize release of pollutants into the environment. Among other measures, the plan specifically calls for reducing municipal solid waste disposal by 10 percent by the end of 1993,30 percent by 1996 and 50 percent by 1997 (from a 1992 baseline). It also specifies that, by the end of 1993, at least 50 percent of paper products and 10 percent of all nonpaper products procured by the Air Force "shall contain recycled material." In addition, notes Major Alec Earle, Chief of the Air Force's Pollution Prevention Division? the Air Force and the Department of Defense (DoD) have recently issued a policy on recycling, signed on August 18, 1993 by Sherri Wasserman Goodman, t h e new Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security. Essentially, it requires every DoD installation worldwide to have a recycling program. Although the Air Force - and other branches of the military -have previously developed some excellent recycling programs (see "Targeting Maximum Diversion Rates," July, 1993 BioCyd e ) , these policy initiatives are providing additional impetus to start new ones and support those already in existence. To establish a baseline for measuring present and future efforts at reduction, a survey of solid waste being generated, disposed and recycled by the Air Force was conducted in March, 1993. The draft report - still just "rough numbers,'? according t o Gary Jacks of the Air Force Civil Engineering Support Agency at Tyndall AFB in Florida, who conducted the survey - indicates that in 1992, the Air Force generated around 1.4
million tons of solid waste (including commercial, residential a n d i n d u s t r i a l streams). Of that amount, 86 percent (1.2 million tons) was disposed and around 14 percent (197,000 tons) was recycled. Not surprisingly, ferrous metal was by far the most commonly recycled item (almost 99,000 tons), followed by nonferrous metal (22,000 tons), cardboard (20,000 tons) and high grade paper (15,000 tons). Wood, tires, newspaper, glass, aluminum, plastic and compost follow in lesser amounts. Increasing waste diversion from 14 percent to 50 percent in five years is no small task for the almost 1.5 million active, Guard and Reserve Air Force people spread out over 219 bases worldwide. However, the Air Force is taking its new orders seriously. "I think the 50 percent goal is definitely achievable?" says Earle, "but it's going to take a concentrated effort by everyone from the Commanders and the Air Staff all the way down to the people a t base level."
CHAIN OF (RECYCLING) COMMAND To understand the Air Force as a waste generator and the scale of the reduction task to which it is now committed, it helps to bear in mind that the Air Force itself is a complex, bureaucratic entity with specific protocols for putting plans - such as the one for pollution prevention - into action. An Air Force base (AFB)belongs to one of 11 different "Major Commands," each of which has a different mission. For instance? the Air Force Material Command, based a t Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio, consists of 14 installations charged with developing, purchasing and repairing aircraft and weapons systems. On the other hand, the Air Combat Command (ACC) headquartered a t Langley AFB in Virginia trains pilots and actually flies combat aircraft from its 23 bases in the continental U.S. Policy is set for the 11 Major Commands by the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. "What we try not to do," says Major Alec Earle, "is to tell a Commander how to do his or her job. We tell them what the policy is and what we are going to measure and then leave it to the Major Commands t o actually execute. And there are different ways of doing that depending on the mission and phiNOVEMBER 1993
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losophy of each Command and the regions of the country where its bases are located." At the base level, regardless of the Major Command to which he or she belongs, the installation Commanders are liable for what happens on their bases and can specify who will carry out a given directive. The organizational structure of the Major Commands are not all the same, nor are the departments and staff assigned to solid waste management and recycling. In some cases the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department (MWR) is the primary recycler. For the most part, these programs must support themselves and do not have access to federal tax dollars ("appropriated funds). Money for equipment purchases or other MWR programs can be limited to profits from sale of recyclable materials that were not purchased with tax dollars in the first place - such as aluminum cans collected at curbside from residences on base. In other instances, Civil Engineering (of which the Pollution Prevention department is a division) is responsible for recycling, or the Environmental Management Directorate (another separate entity) oversees the program. Funding for these departments may not be as restrictive as for MWR programs, allowing them to collect and process more materials. In addition, the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Organization (DRMO) also is involved i n worldwide support of all services' recycling programs. Local branches of the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service are charged with either reusing o r marketing material purchased with appropriated funds, such as used equipment and industrial scrap metals. Finally, civilian consultants and program managers are employed by some Commands and bases may engage a private hauler or processor, depending on individual and regional circumstances. As Major Earle explains, "We give a wide amount of latitude to the Major Commands, who in turn give some latitude to their installation commanders or recycling managers. The bottom line is that we have to insure that everyone is complying with the law."
TWO MWR PROGRAMS Currently, the Air Staff reports that 181 out of the 219 Air Force bases worldwide have some type of recycling program. Tinker AFB, near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma began recycling in the late 1980s and has developed its program on several fronts. A logistics base and engine maintenance center in the Air Force Materiel Command, Tinker is reportedly the state's largest single employer, providing more than 19,000 military and civilian jobs on its 5,000 acres. In 1992, the base generated approximately 27,000 tons of solid waste, around 77 percent of which was landfilled, 22 percent recycled and less than one percent incinerated. Recycling is managed by the MWR division, with the exception of the metals recycling
program, which DRMO manages. DRMO also provides market analysis and economic feasibility studies, and contracting, removal and reimbursement for sold materials. LaWanda Lawrence, Solid Waste Program Manager, is the primary contact person for recycling issues a t Tinker. She works in the Pollution Prevention Division of the Environmental Management Directorate. She reports that MWR staff currently pick up segregated recyclables basewide, then process, store and prepare materials for delivery to vendors. Tinker employees voluntarily separate office paper and deliver it to 40-gallon bins located at collection points throughout administrative areas. When the containers are full, a call is made to MWR Paper Recycling for collection. The bins are emptied into cage containers in the back of a pick up truck and transported to the paper recycling facility for manual sorting. Cardboard is collected from eight-cubic yard dumpsters placed outside of buildings
"We're in the first stages of trying to site a windrow composting facility for yard trimmings, wood debris, hopefully food waste and domestic sludge," says the recycling manager at Robins AFB in Georgia.
In 1992, the Air Force generated around 1.4 million tons of solid waste from its commercial, residential and industrial streams.
designated as high cardboard generators. Additionally, the Base Exchange and Commissary have their own cardboard balers. Waste wood is deposited in rolloffs located throughout the base. When full, MWR transfers the bins t o the wood recycling facility where it is processed by a grinder. Chips are then marketed to a vendor as boiler fuel. Residents on base are served by weekly, source separated, curbside collection of glass, HDPE plastic, newspaper, aluminum and bimetal cans. Dropoff containers are available 24 hours a day for industrial recyclables, glass, plastic, aluminum and bimetal cans, and can be used by base employees and off-base retirees. Clear, green and amber glass is cleaned and sorted by MWR personnel and also processed through a grinder. HDPE milk jugs and other colored plastics are sorted, baled and then stored for pick up. Aluminum cans, either collected a t curbside or through aluminum can recovery projects run by individual organizations, are compacted for storage. Recyclable metals are either collected in separate containers and transported t o DRMO for resale, or received, collected and separated at the DRMO facility itself for resale. Lawrence notes that this is the most profitable recycling program and the major source of funds for the base's recycling efforts. Tires also are being recovered. In addition, the Civil Engineering department on base has a large contract to recycle concrete. Over the summer it crushed and processed around 20,000 tons of the material. "We also are in the early stages of implementing the Buy Recycled Products program," reports Lawrence. Even so, in the second quarter of 1993,72.5 percent of total dollars spent on paper were used to purchase products with recycled content. Tinker presently does not have a yard waste composting program - residential grass clippings would be the primary source material out on the Oklahoma plains -but Lawrence says that Maj. Gen. Spiers, Tinker's Installation Commander, is "very enthused" about it and would like to see a program developed. Somewhat similar t o Tinker in terms of program structure is Robins AFB in Georgia. Robins is the largest industrial complex in the State of Georgia. Around 18,000 people - both civilians and military personnel - work there. This 8,800 acre installation in the Air Force Material Command mostly deals with aircraft maintenance and avionics. According to John "Tommy" Kenerly, Program Manager for Recycling, total waste generation is approximately 19,000 tons per year. Around 4,700 tons of waste material were collected and recycled in 1992. The base has been recycling for almost 10 years with MWR managing the program for the past eight years. As part of the recycling effort, Robins purchased $145,455 in products made from recycled materials in the first two quarters of 1993 (i.e., paper products,
cement containing fly ash, retread tires). Like Lawrence at Tinker, Kenerly is in the Environmental Management Directorate and reports to the installation commander. "Robins is currently recycling about 24.9 percent of the total waste stream," Kenerly says, "and a good bit of that is metals." Each office facility currently has collection bins for white paper and aluminum cans. Desktop recycling containers recently have been placed in the offices t o improve paper collection. "We're promoting segregation of the paper stream because our MWR people have been having some difficulty hand separating computer paper, high grade paper and mixed paper," he adds. "Source separation would save time and they could make more money on the product." A curbside collection program, also handled by MWR, serves the approximately 1,400 residences on the base. Additionally, there are segregated bins for scrap metals and industrial wood collection. Pallets and the like are chipped and then used for mulch by the county. "We're in the first stages of trying to site a windrow composting facility on base for yard waste, wood waste, hopefully food waste, and domestic sludge if that's legally possible," Kenerly says. "Our grounds contractor currently is chipping all our yard waste and we use around 88 tons of pine straw chips a year in flower beds and on the grounds. However, the operation needs t o be formalized and better organized." If everything goes as planned, he anticipates a composting facility could be operational within two years. For the Air Force Material Command as a whole, the Program Manager for Solid Waste Reduction is Gopal Annamraju, a civilian working from Command headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. He provides technical assistance and keeps track of recycling programs on the 14AFMC installations. "We are definitely making progress," he says, "but a number of the programs are just getting started and need investment. If we have the funding, we should be able to reach the Air Force's 50 percent reduction goal by 1997." Other Air Force personnel interviewed for this article expressed concern about some of the organizational impediments to expanding programs. "If you only have 10 people to work on your recycling program, then you can bring every bit of paper in off the base and not be able t o manage it," said one airman. "When the Commanders tell us that recycling is mandatory, we had better have enough equipment and personnel to handle the increase." "I've been at base level, and it's frustrating when you don't have the money to do a job well,'' says Major Earle, of the Pollution Prevention Division. "The Air Force is committed to increasing funding for recycling. What we're trying t o do is give the bases more ways to ask for money. I won't say we'll fix all the problems tomorrow, but it is something the Air Force leadership recogNOVEMBER 1993
nizes and is working on." Lawrence of Tinker AFB emphasizes the importance of looking at all alternatives, including reduction at the source. "We have to remember to integrate recycling with source reduction by talking with industry about reducing their packing materials and changing their manufacturing processes. It's a new Air Force, and it won't take more than a year or two t o separate those who are unwilling to change and do business a new way. It's just a matter of time."
ON THE ATTACK
From Langley AFB in Virginia, the Air Combat Command (ACC) has decided t o streamline the organization for recycling efforts in its 23 bases from the top down. A Pollution Prevention Program Guidance Document published in May, 1993 - specifically for this Command - formalizes and provides detailed instructions for accomplishing the goals outlined in the Air Force's Pollution Prevention Program Action Plan. Regarding solid waste, it specifies that "installations will integrate cost-effective waste reduction and recycling programs into their MSW Management Program. . . . The best combination of techniques at an installation is highly dependent on local factors such as state and local regulations, regional MSW management arrangements, recycling markets, and the components in the MSW stream. Regional civilian MSW management facilities will be used whenever possible and installations should participate in regional planning efforts." The document also states: "Where legal requirements or economic factors lead bases to implement unprofitable recycling programs, the Base Civil Engineer will operate and fund the recycling effort as a function of managing waste disposal.'' In July, the ACC retained Geo-Marine, an environmental engineering firm based in Plano, Texas, t o provide assistance in implementing its plan. "Our job is to cut waste and recycle everything we can," says Bob Kerlinger, Geo-Marine's representative a t Langley. "Quite frankly, the bases are a t all different stages. Some do a pretty good job, but other have barely started. Programs run by MWR are having a difficult time because they are required to make money through sale of materials. In fact, nine of the 23 ACC bases have turned their recycling programs over t o Civil Engineering. The Air Force goal is waste reduction, not running an enterprise solely focused on profits. This shift of responsibility is likely to continue, so that our other programs can be properly funded. We can't continue doing it the old way." Kerlinger adds that now is the time to get aggressive. "The people who are currently working w i t h recycling o n t h e bases, whether they are with MWR or Civil Engineering o r some other organization, are very dedicated and know what we've got t o do. The big thing is t o get everybody involved, constantly educate people a n d change attitudes."
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NEW METHODS AT A TEXAS MINING OPERATION
A sand and grave 1 mining company in Fort Worth diversifies into composting wood waste and manures - and prepares for other biosolids.
horsepower tub'grinder was purchased to accommodate,,.;civood,brush, pallets, lumber TH t h e Texas economy reeling from the downturn in oil prices, Silver Creek Materials, Inc. - a sand alternative sources of in located on 250 acres, ow ing loaders, a bulldoz plant. It appeared that yard waste and yard trimmings. A $1.75 per cubic yard tipping fee was implemented to help cover the grinding and composting costs. posting for two and one half ver Creek is currently processing ,000 cubic yards of wood waste and per year. All of these materials are from area landfills. Our success stem from the close proximity to the th markets. These markets not only he selling of compost, but also inmarkets for the raw wood waste e facility. The operation is between two landfills on the n, which aids in receiving rele materials. Maintaining tipping fees landfill cost and offering. a method of re cling to the customers maces for an easy s h r services. Feedstock contributors include a e Management of North Amert : ica, Inc., [email protected] Ferris Industries, Laidlaw Waste Systems, Inc., Miller Brewery, area zoos and circuses, local incorporated cities, lumber yards, landscapers and homeowners. The wood is ground, using the tub grinder with a 4" x 6" screen opening. The ground wood is then moved to a storage area ready for windrowing. Large front end loaders form the shredded wood into windrows. Any manures available are mixed with the chips at this time. These windrows are about 20 feet wide and 8 feet high by 600 feet long. Water is incorporated into the windrows via a 4,000 gallon water cannon. This unit delivers approximately 250 gallons per minute directly onto the windrows. During the summer months, on average, we apply about 20,000 gallons of water per week, per windrow. In the midst of a Texas summer, water will always be the limiting factor in composting. The windrows are turned once per week allowing oxygen into the process. At the end of the composting period, which generally runs between eight and 20 weeks depending on how much manure was incorporated into the mix, the wood has degraded into a rich dark compost. After final screening the compost turns into an extremely marketable and truly extraordinary product. Arriving a t the operation is rough wood, brush, trees and pallets and in just a matter of weeks the final product is a dark, smooth, life giving soil amendment.
Crews were allowed to dump p wood free of charge. This enab Creek to begin comsosting wit of an expensive wood grinder. few months, this turned in
Air Force Targets 50 Percent Diversion
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