WIESBADEN, Germany (Oct. 23, 2012) -- Big recycling changes are coming to U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, and if the preliminary results of a Dumpster diving expedition are any indication, garrison residents are well on their way to being ready.
"I'm happily surprised that people are doing a pretty good job," said Marty Hanson, a contractor for the Directorate of Public Works' Environmental Division, after digging through the non-recyclable Dumpster trash at several buildings on Westfalen Strasse in Aukamm Housing, Oct. 2.
Wiesbaden's newcomers from Heidelberg will be familiar with the planned changes for Wiesbaden. They include locked recyclable stations, bio-waste containers and more stringently enforced repercussions for people who do not recycle, said Peter Zeisberger, the Directorate of Public Work Operations and Maintenance solid waste manager.
Garrison officials expect to make the changes in about a year, Zeisberger said.
Also, by the beginning of November, 5,000 paper recycling containers will go out to offices throughout the garrison, Zeisberger said.
With 2,250 housing units and 1,320 barracks spaces, and a cost of $516 a year to dispose of a 240-liter container of the residual trash (that is the remaining trash after recycling), the garrison stands to save a lot of money by increasing the amount of recycling, Zeisberger said.
If the garrison could cut pick-up times to every second week, it would cost $258 a year for a 240-liter container, Zeisberger said. The yearly disposal cost for the residual waste containers at Army Family Housing is currently more than $600,000 a year, but by putting the recycling efforts in place, the costs could be reduced by as much as half.
There are two good arguments for recycling, Hanson said. It not only saves the planet, but it saves money as well, he said.
Hanson, who worked for Heidelberg's environmental division for 20 years, said he and Zeisberger checked the Aukamm garbage cans to get a general idea of how well people were recycling. They conducted the survey the day before trash pickup, when the containers would be at their fullest.
Most of the containers were a quarter to half full, Hanson said, which means most people are doing a good job of recycling.
A few containers, however, were full to the top and the trash bags inside contained several recyclables, Hanson said.
Although garrison officials have not set a date yet, a pilot project will begin soon at 20 apartment buildings that will tag trash containers with green, yellow or red stickers depending on how well residents are recycling, Hanson said.
The idea behind the stickers is that residents who have three yellow stickers or one red sticker will have to explain to the command sergeant major or the commander why the recycling was done incorrectly, Hanson said.
Heidelberg had a similar program, Hanson said, and Wiesbaden already has the consequences for not recycling in place.
According to USAG Wiesbaden Commander Col. David Carstens' policy letter on trash disposal, sponsors receive a written warning from housing for a first infraction.
On the second infraction, housing will inform the sponsor's unit commander. For the third infraction, the sponsor and his or her chain of command will report to the garrison command sergeant major, and the sponsor will be counseled for failure to obey an order or regulation. The sponsor may receive up to 24 hours of community service, according to the letter.
If there is a fourth infraction, the sponsor may receive a letter of reprimand by the garrison commander and possibly lose housing entitlements, according to the letter.
The letter encourages residents to correct people who are not recycling correctly and if that does not work, to report the violator to his or her stairwell or building coordinator.
Hanson and Zeisberger, however, hope enforcement will not be a problem, and they have some recycling suggestions. The key to good recycling habits is having different containers for paper, plastic and glass inside the home, Hanson said. In the future, that will also include a container for bio waste.
All the single-family and duplex homes in Aukamm and Newman Village already have bio-waste containers, Zeisberger said, and everyone should have them by the end of 2013.
Also, even though many people think they know which materials go in which bin, it is a good idea to review the information on the front of the bin periodically to make sure, Hanson said.
The garrison also has a recycling guide people can read at www.wiesbaden.army.mil. Click on the "recycling guide" button.