Columbus AFB earns state recycling award

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The Mississippi Recycling Coalition has named Columbus Air Force Base as the Federal Government Recycler of the Year for the third consecutive year, acknowledging the base's continued excellence in promoting installation and community awareness for recycling initiatives and programs.

"The Columbus Air Force Base Quality Recycling Program continues to lead all federal facilities throughout the state, and also has the reputation of leading the way for source reduction and innovation throughout the southeast," said Bo Shelton, chief of environmental quality. "The working relationship and attitude of base and environmental personnel ensure program success."

Base members promote recycling and research new technology and avenues to reduce the base's solid waste every day. A prime example is the recent Earth Day and Arbor Day celebration, attended by more than 300 local elementary students.

"Our goal is to educate these children on their environment, as well as their responsibilities, to ensure these areas are preserved for future generations," said Renee Howell, Quality Recycling Program manager.

"There is no better tool to help implement our initiatives to the local community than 300-plus elementary students going home and informing their parents of their responsibilities to our environment and the importance of recycling," Ms. Howell said.

Quality Recycling Program staff continuously assess their program to ensure efficiency. In 2005, the center recycled more than 1,520 tons and composted 32 tons of material.

One of the program's successful projects is the compost facility. The facility converts military family housing yard waste to compost, which is then made available to base members free of charge. Last quarter, the facility generated 8 tons of compost.

"Our goal is eliminate more than $10,000 in compost purchases," Ms. Howell said. "We have also purchased a horizontal wood processor, which will significantly reduce the amount of wood debris the base takes to the landfill each year, primarily from storms. This purchase will potentially save more than $50,000 in disposal costs."

The processor will also provide ready-to-use mulch for base personnel.

"Columbus Air Force Base's QRP program is an example of (our) commitment to our environment," said Mike Smith, 14th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental flight chief. "We want to ensure our environment is sustained to be enjoyed for future generations."