"Bring us your plastic bottles and see what we build," was the battle cry of the Fort Bliss Recycling Center at 1334 Marshall Road Nov. 15 as workers from the center provided food and information for visiting adults and trinkets for children from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a chilly Monday morning and warm and windy afternoon. November 15 was America Recycles Day.
"The two-year-old single stream waste collection program only takes plastics, paper, aluminum cans, cardboard and other recyclable items," said Stephanie Nebhan, outreach coordinator with the center. "All of the recyclables go to one bin as a single stream. We only take plastic bottles and jugs, but for the next two weeks we will be taking plastics that have a one through seven designation."
The trucks pick up recyclable items every day on post.
Plastics containers have a triangle on them. Within the triangle are numbers which identify a certain type of plastic container. The numbers can be any container, as long as they are labeled one through seven. Nebhan said all money earned by the recycling center go back to Soldiers and their families.
"I think our education program is special. One of our goals is decreased contamination of the recyclable items because you get more money for that, and it increases the amount of material we're recycling," she added.
During the promotional event, center employees also challenged customers with Jeopardy-like questions on recycling while entertaining children with recycling bowling, fishing for fun and a jumping balloon.
Another event that took place was the start of a Christmas tree made of water bottles that will be twelve feet tall or more, according to Nebhan. She estimates the project will take about two or three weeks to build and also serve as a reminder to recycle.
All of the plastic recyclables are taken to a local company and reprocessed. The end product is sold to an El Paso recycling company. There are trucks picking up recyclables from the center everyday. Screens and magnets are used to help separate the materials.
"The recyclables are taken to a material recovery facility," said Gilbert Garcia, recycling manager for Fort Bliss. "There is a decrease of human involvement, but there are people doing the initial screenings of large items in the beginning. After that it's all automated. The items are separated by sensors and magnets and other automatic equipment, which eliminates the need for manual labor.
"We have set up tours at the facility for people interested in seeing and hearing about the process," continued Garcia. "All this goes on at an El Paso recycling facility. They help us set up tours with anyone interested in seeing how the process works. You can see the entire process from beginning to end."