At Keflavik, recycling can be profitable
Keeping the base clean and attractive is a money-making venture at Naval Air Station Keflavik, home of the Iceland Defense Force.
There, the only recycling center operated by a Navy Exchange pays out almost $150,000 yearly to individuals, groups and units who turn in cans and bottles of glass and plastic.
The center pays 10 cents for each can or bottle brought to it.
“The Boy Scouts got the most money from the recycling plant,” said Manuel Eutrambasaguas, a technician at the plant. “They got over $300. They brought in 3,500 cans.”
The center does not take newspaper, paper or cardboard because there is no way of recycling it.
The returned cans and bottles are given to Endurvinnslan HF Recycling Co. in Reykjavik, netting the on-base facility a profit of 2 cents per item, which is used to maintain the center and pay employees.
Some of the NEX waste lands in landfills, but much of it is truly recycled. For example, the plastic is melted down and sent to the Netherlands, where it is cleaned and shipped to Ireland, where it is used in the manufacture of fleece wool clothing.
The recycling center was opened in 1993. Since then, it has been credited with helping keep the base on the North Atlantic island attractive and free of trash.
“It’s a great service,” said Ron Dahl, services operation manager for the base. “It keeps our landfills from filling up and helps preserve the natural resources.
“Plus, it contributes to the base looking so neat and tidy.”
The center is open year-round, but there are obvious times when the pace of work increases.
“Business picks up around inspection time for the barracks,” said Michelle Buchanan, recycling supervisor. “It also picks up around summer time because more people are barbecuing and having parties.”
Buchanan had some advice for people who recycle at the center. The items should be separated before they are turned in.
Plus, she said, it would be nice if people refrained from using their cans and bottles as ashtrays and spittoons.
“They have to be clean [to be picked up by the Icelandic company],” she said. “People should be rinsing out their cans because it’s respectful.”