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Fort Rucker’s recycling plan pulls its weight

Jason Dykes and Kent Tate, URS contractors, and Melissa Lowlavar, environmental branch chief, begin to unload a truck filled with cardboard and pack it into a baler at the Fort Rucker Environmental Center. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Jason Dykes and Kent Tate, URS contractors, and Melissa Lowlavar, environmental branch chief, begin to unload a truck filled with cardboard and pack it into a baler at the Fort Rucker Environmental Center. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: January 16, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 16, 2014) -- With the arrival of the new year, some people think about making new, healthy habits, and Fort Rucker is helping people go green by continuing to make on-post recycling accessible and easy.

Fort Rucker offers many ways to recycle, including the Corvias Military Living program, the environmental center, and according to Melissa Lowlavar, environmental management branch chief, the post is pulling its weight when it comes to helping with the growing epidemic of overflowing landfills. 

“It is super easy to drop things off at our center. No hassle, no paperwork and no fees. You can live off post, you can bring your neighbors’ stuff, you can be a civilian, you can work on post – it doesn’t matter when it comes to recycling,” she said. “We all should be stewards of the Earth. (Everyone needs to) do (their) part to make sure that future generations have all of the needed resources to live on this beautiful planet.”

The recycling center collects material year round. Some of the typical things it takes are cardboard, aluminum cans, paper, mixed plastics, old toner cartridges, used oil, metals, wood pallets, and electronic waste such as old cell phones, computers and compact discs.

“All of our efforts make a difference,” said Kevin Bryan, environmental scientist. “Using plastics as an example:  the number of bottles that it takes to make up a bale of plastic for recycling would more than fill up a standard in-ground swimming pool.  That is a lot of space that we are saving in our local landfills.” 

The fact that anyone can use the environmental center, with its easily accessible location, and the fact that it collects materials at office buildings make them a good choice when it comes to local recycling, he continued. 

For those that have daily recyclables, there are paper and cardboard recycling bins set up at a variety of locations around the installation. There is one in almost every office building, said Bryan. But for those with large lamounts, the center is located in the center of post for drop off.

“People can collect their segregated recyclables, drive up and into the warehouse (Bldg. 9322) where some of our staff will be glad to assist and direct them.  On bad weather days, if the big roll up door is closed, people will have to go through the smaller, personal door in order to get assistance.”

The center has a few rules when it comes to dropping things off to be recycled.

“People have to separate what they bring in and food residue cannot be in any of the containers,” said Lowlavar. Officials also request that pizza boxes not be brought in, and that bottles and cans that used to contain liquids be washed out to keep the facility as clean and rodent-free as possible.

“Parents should encourage children to be involved in the process and make it be educational,” she continued. “It really hits home with children when you tell them how long it takes certain things to biodegrade in the landfill.”

It’s just as easy taking something to the dump as it is to bring it to the center, added Bryan, saying that it is more efficient and healthier than letting it sit around the house.

Fort Rucker even has an incentive program to reward units and organizations for their recycling efforts.

“In the program, groups are awarded monetary credit towards their Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation account that they can utilize for numerous things.  There are several units that have been credited several hundred dollars for their efforts,” he said.

Corvias has a separate recycling program that Soldiers and Families that live on post can utilize that has just as many opportunities to recycle with just as much ease.

“Each home comes with a 35-gallon rolling-recycling container that is picked up every Monday, and the program is free to use and you don’t have to sign up for it,” said Michael Gregory, Corvias Military Housing director of capital improvements, maintenance and purchasing.

The materials that are allowed in each container are: aluminum, steel and tin cans; cardboard; paper and paper bags; books; No. 1 and 2 plastic bottles; and pizza boxes.

Things that cannot go in the container are plastic bags, Styrofoam, yard waste, wax cartons and glass.

“So far, we have recycled more than 1,400 tons since 2006,” he said.

One of the biggest events that focus on recycling will be held April 22 at the festival fields. The Earth Day Exposition will begin at 10 a.m. and last until 3 p.m.

The recycling center at Bldg. 9322 is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This article was originally published at

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