By Airman 1st Class Tessa B. Corrick
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Dumped items are left alongside a fence at the recycling center at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 26, 2018. Items such as mattresses and old furniture are frequently dumped at the center, even though they are not accepted recyclables. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tessa B. Corrick)
Accepted items are listed on the front of a recycling container at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 26, 2018. There are 64 receptacles on base that accept allowable items 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tessa B. Corrick)
A box lies among a pile of glass bottles at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 26, 2018. Certain items cannot be mixed at recycling center. Leaving items in the wrong container is considered dumping and has the potential to ruin an entire collection of recyclable materials. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tessa B. Corrick)
A “no dumping” sign is posted at the recycling center at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 26, 2018. Dumping is considered as placing unaccepted items inside trash or recycling containers or leaving any items outside of them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tessa B. Corrick)
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, conserves natural resources and increases economic security, among many other benefits.
However if items are disposed of incorrectly, those benefits can quickly be compromised and cause problems on base.
“Leaving any items outside of recycle and trash containers or placing unaccepted items inside them is what is considered dumping,” said Alfredo Garza, Barksdale’s recycling manager. “By doing this you can ruin an entire container of recyclables.”
Dumping causes the loss of time and resources.
“When you improperly dispose of something, it does not disappear. Someone else has to pick it up and dispose of the item properly,” Garza said. “Anything from a chair, to a mattress or a large piece of furniture can cause issues. A single dumped mattress or couch can cost the base around $200 in labor and disposal fees.”
Be aware, there are consequences for these illegal acts.
"The individual was recorded by our surveillance cameras leaving mattresses outside our containers, where there are signs that explicitly state they are not accepted. We were able to get that footage out to security forces and now the individual is currently awaiting punishment,” Garza said.
Decisions for these punishments are made by the Conservation Enforcement Board (CEB).
“Punishment for illegal dumping is handled on a case-by-case basis,” said Rhonda Gasaway, 2nd Security Forces Squadron reports and analysis office security assistant. “Privileges can be suspended from hunting, fishing, game and recreation. For active duty, command action can be taken against the individual along with the CEB decision. Fines may have to be paid also depending on damage or the type of infraction. Civilians can get suspensions and fines as well.”
However, recycling is still encouraged, as it remains an important aspect for environmental conservation.
“Barksdale recycles an average of 300 tons of office recyclables, scrap metal, used oil, scrap furniture and lead acid batteries along with about another 30 different items. Not to mention, 85 percent of what we buy comes in a recyclable package,” Garza said. “Air Force and Barksdale goals are to recycle more than we throw away. It takes every person, regardless of rank or position, to make sure recycling is done correctly every time.”
There are a total of 64 recycle containers on base including those at the recycling center. It is highly encouraged to recycle when possible. Never leave items outside of containers and always check the list of accepted items on their front label to prevent illegal dumping.
For larger items needing to be disposed of or items not listed on the receptacles, contact the recycling center at 318-456-5293 for more information.