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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — After you read this newspaper, Larry K. Lucas would like you to throw it in the trash.

Just make sure you put it in the proper recycling bin.

Yokota last week revised its recycling program to simplify the sorting of some items and add new items to the list of products that can be recycled. The changes not only will help the environment by diverting more trash from landfills or incinerators, but also they will save the base money.

“Our trash has value,” said Lucas, chief of the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Environmental Flight.

By recycling more items, base residents can help reduce the costs of the base’s waste disposal contract, he said.

Efficient recycling also reduces the load for the incinerator, which costs money to operate and contributes to air pollution, he said.

One key change to the program will make the sorting of trash easier: Glass, plastic and metal items now can be placed in the same bag. Caps should be removed and any food or liquid should be rinsed out.

Residents also should make sure that any plastic being recycled is PETE or PET. Such plastics are marked with a recyclable symbol and the numeral one.

Another change means a wider variety of paper items can be recycled.

Colored paper, notebooks, calendars, cereal and detergent boxes and milk cartons are among new items that can be disposed of in the paper products bin. Just as with plastic items, boxes and cartons should be free of any food or liquids, and they should not have a vinyl coating.

Lucas stressed the importance of making a habit of rinsing out items so they can be recycled instead of incinerated.

“Most people want to do it the right way,” he said.

Base residents also can help by making sure flammable items such as aerosol cans and propane bottles do not end up in the trash. When such items end up in the incinerator, they can explode, causing damage to the equipment.

To help ease disposal of those nonrecyclables, containers for hazardous household waste items are being set up near base housing units, Lucas said.

Yokota’s Self-Help Store provides base residents with clear plastic bags for sorting their recyclables and paper products. The clear bags are important, Lucas said, because they allow garbage collectors to see what items are inside in case the bag was placed in the incorrect waste receptacle. Paper items also can be sorted in boxes or crushed and bundled with string.

With landfill space becoming a limited commodity in Japan, Lucas said it is important for Yokota to have an efficient recycling program.

“We’re not just being good stewards of the environment, we’re being accountable to the taxpayers as well,” he said. “With a little more effort, [base residents] could have a huge value added to our mission.”

For more recycling information, call Yokota’s Environmental Office at DSN 225-9683.

Recycling guide

A guide to the new recycling rules at Yokota Air Base, from the base’s environemtal office (PDF)

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