The homegrown White Sands Missile Range Recycle Program has successfully diverted over 81 tons of waste into landfills since its inception a little over a year ago.
The program, run by the WSMR Directorate of Public Works and managed by Qualified Recycling Program manager Susan B. Van Horn, and alternate Qualified Recycling Program manager Debbie Hartell, has also seen an increase in participation over the recent months. WSMR’s percentage of solid waste diversion from landfill disposal has increased from 25 to 33 percent.
The benefits are twofold; the increase in solid waste to recycling has reduced the amount of trash WSMR sends to the landfill for disposal, reducing the installation’s carbon footprint in the amount of waste disposed in landfills. Recycling also provides a great benefit of having new items produced from 81 tons of material that would have otherwise been trashed.
“Why waste it if it can definitely be recycled,” Van Horn said.
The local program does not compare its growth to other recycling programs on other installations. WSMR’s recycling program is home-grown and, at this point, primarily self-sufficient. Unlike other installations, the local program was born using internal Army staff, enabling the proceeds from scrap metal, used oil, and municipal solid waste recycling to be utilized in growing WSMR’s recycling program. The program initially started with a set of trailers and recycling bins to get the WSMR team started. The diverted waste collected through the program is hauled away by WSMR’s DPW Roads and Grounds crew to Friedman Recycling Co. in El Paso, Texas.
“We’re not spending extra money. We’re trying to have it be self-sustaining,” Hartell said.
One way the program can stand on its own is by raising enough funds through recycling itself in order to obtain the resources needed by increasing the sale of scrap metal and used oil managed by the Defense Logistics Agency. Hartell said the funds help the program grow by enabling the purchase of more recycling trailers and possibly the much needed personnel to help run the program.
A Qualified Recycling Program policy was signed in 2012 by a past WSMR Garrison Commander that states that everyone on main post will participate in the recycling program. The program was initially developed to help WSMR meet the Army diversion goal which requires everyone’s participation. The Army diversion goal is to reach 50 percent solid waste diversion by 2015.
“We’re working towards that Army goal,” Van Horn said.
Hartell and Van Horn said there are steps participants can take to help reach that goal. One issue the program has seen is the amount of space boxes take up. Both Hartell and Van Horn stressed the importance of breaking down boxes before placing them in recycling trailers. When boxes are broken down it provides much more space in the trailers for more recyclable items in the trailer. This reduces the number of trips to the El Paso recycling center.
“Boxes that aren’t broken down take up space for more things that can definitely be recycled,” Hartell said.
Each organization is responsible for picking up their blue recycling containers and placing the contents into one of the five available trailers when they are full. The trailers are located throughout the Main Post.
There are still containers available for any organization to participate in the recycling program. The containers come with a list of items that are and are not acceptable for recycling. Organization representatives can arrange to pick up the recycling containers by calling Javier Mendoza at 678-2415.