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2nd Lt. Jenna Sielski, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental flight pollution prevention chief, displays one of the new recycling bins to be distributed to base housing residents.

2nd Lt. Jenna Sielski, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental flight pollution prevention chief, displays one of the new recycling bins to be distributed to base housing residents. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Next month about 2,000 residents in military family housing and dormitories will receive trash recycling bins for their homes as part of a basewide initiative to be more environmentally friendly.

The push also represents an effort to begin to meet a Defense Department goal of a nonhazardous solid waste diversion rate of 40 percent by the end of fiscal 2005, according to 2nd Lt. Jenna Sielski, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron, environmental flight pollution prevention chief. The rate measures “how much you’re recycling, how much you’re diverting from the landfill,” she said, noting Misawa currently recycles about 24 percent of its nonhazardous solid waste.

About $90,000 in housing funds was allotted to buy the bins from an off-base home-and-garden department store, base officials said. Similar in size to a tall kitchen trash can, each plastic bin stands about 3 feet high and is separated into two compartments. One is for paper products, such as newspapers, white paper and magazines, and the other for glass bottles and jars, metal cans, and all plastics.

They’re to be delivered to each residence Sept. 24 and 25.

The bins, upon initial distribution, will include a set of plastic recycling bags that fit the compartments. When full, the bags are to be deposited in 55-gallon containers placed at housing trash collection points, where they’ll be picked up weekly. Another container will be set up for cardboard containers, which must first be broken down flat. The plastic recycling bags are free in the Self-Help Store.

Recycling is not new to Misawa. Japanese law requires the base hire a contractor to separate nonhazardous waste for off-base recycling. But Sielski said recyclables sometimes are contaminated when mixed in with other garbage and can’t be reused.

The bins will “reduce co-mingling,” she said.

Since about 2000, some trash collection points for the towers and H-style family housing have been stocked with the yellow and blue 55-gallon drop bins, Sielski said, but they weren’t widely used.

“The contractor made separate pickups, but the community was not really aware of what we were doing and there wasn’t much participation,” she said. “We haven’t really provided the tools to residents to make it easy. This will make it easy for them.”

Recycling isn’t mandatory but is highly encouraged, Sielski said. “We need to show our host nation we’re serious about recycling and we’re good stewards of the environment,” she said.

Call DSN 226-3724 for more information about Misawa’s recycling program.

Using recycling bins

Here’s what can be dropped in the new two-compartment recycling bins to be distributed to base residents next month:

One compartment is for paper, to include newspaper, magazines and computer paper. Do not mix in food wrappers, tissues, stickers and wax, or shredded, oil-soaked or carbon paper.The other compartment is for metal cans, glass bottles and all plastics. They must be rinsed out.Broken-down cardboard boxes can be tossed in a separate bin located at trash collection areas.Hazardous materials, such as batteries, aerosol cans, paint, fluorescent bulbs, liquid propane gas cylinders and any liquid fuel may be disposed of at the Joint Hazardous Waste Storage Facility in Building 977. The Auto Skills Center in Building 767 accepts used car batteries, oil, antifreeze, tires and car parts.Plastic recycling bags are available at the Self-Help Store in Building 434.

Call DSN 226-3724 for more information about Misawa’s recycling program.

Source: 35th Civil Engineer Squadron

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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