By Russell Sellers, Army Flier StaffNovember 12, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Post residents who want to contribute to installation recycling efforts will have the opportunity to do even more on America Recycles Day Nov. 15.
America Recycles Day has taken place across the nation annually since 1997, according to information posted on americarecyclesday.org.
Here, it is a chance for those living on post to help the environment by collecting cell phones, one of the fastest growing types of trash, said Colleen Quinlan, Directorate of Public Works Hazardous Waste Program manager.
"The average North American gets a new cell phone every 18 to 24 months, making old phones - many that contain hazardous materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, brominated flame retardants and arsenic - the fastest growing type of manufactured garbage in the nation," she said.
Those living and working on post can bring old cell phones and cell phone batteries to the Fort Rucker Recycling Center at Guthrie Airfield, Hazardous Material Control in Bldg. 1315 or the DPW Environmental division in Bldg. 1121 on Dilly Branch Road between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans discard 125 million phones each year, creating 65,000 tons of waste.
"I'm always relieved when there are disposal options for people who wouldn't otherwise know what to do with these items," Quinlan added. "Approximately half of the phones collected will be reconditioned and resold. The phones and components that cannot be refurbished will be dismantled and recycled to reclaim materials from circuit boards and battery packs. I'm all for a program that benefits our Soldiers and protects the environment at the same time."
Cell phones for Soldiers, a non-profit organization assisting with the Nov. 15 event, plans to turn old cell phones into more than 12 million minutes of prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas, Quinlan said.
Some post organizations have also decided to start their own recycling programs to help where possible. The Aviation Center Logistics Command, a tenant command at Fort Rucker, has started a recycling program for plastics and aluminum in its building, according to Julie Norrell, Environmental Management System program manager.
"Fort Rucker does not currently include aluminum cans and plastic bottles in its (Qualified Recycling Program); therefore, the (environmental group) decided to implement this program within its own operations to decrease ACLC's solid waste footprint," she said.
Currently, DPW Environmental handles the recycling of cardboard, paper, metals and construction materials throughout the installation, according to Mo Armstrong, DPW environmental specialist.