Arnold Recycling Center staff strive to educate base personnel, community about importance of recycling

  • Published
  • By Deidre Moon
  • AEDC Public Affairs

The Arnold Air Force Base Recycling Center participated in the Global Recycling Day March 18 at the Hands-On Science Center in Tullahoma to help spread the word about why recycling and properly disposing of trash is important.

According to Eric Hopp, Arnold Recycling Center manager, the Arnold Engineering Development Complex has a commitment to environmental stewardship.

“Whether at work or at home, base personnel are encouraged to do their part to lessen their carbon footprint by recycling,” he said. “Arnold’s recycling program diverts approximately 1.3 million tons of material annually from the landfill.”

At his booth at the Hands-On Science Center, Hopp had three recycling receptacles set up to show families how to properly sort their recyclables. He mentioned materials people often think are recyclable are actually trash.

For example, Hopp explained used canned goods, like vegetable or fruit cans, are mistakenly placed in aluminum recycling bins.

“A good way to determine whether or not it’s aluminum is by using a magnet,” he said. “A magnet doesn’t stick to an aluminum can, but it does to a steel or tin can. So, instead of putting your vegetable cans with your Coke cans, they should either be recycled with other metals or placed in the trash.”

Hopp added that it’s always a good idea to check with the recycling center local to you to see what items they accept.

Reese York, a 6-year-old from McMinville who was at the HOSC event, said her elementary school recycles and taking out the trash is one of the chores she helps with at home.

“I help get the trash and put it where it goes,” she said.

The most common recyclable items are typically plastics, such as water bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard and paper.

“Currently, only cardboard, printer cartridges, aluminum cans and scrap metals are the materials Arnold Recycling Center sells to recover costs,” Hopp said. “But we do still collect plastics for the diversion rates to keep items out of landfills and waterways. The plastics from Arnold are then transported to a regional recycle center for further processing and then baled.”

Scrap metal is an item that can at times be found in large quantities at Arnold.

“Arnold Air Force Base is different, in that not only are we an Air Force base, but we’re an aerospace testing site,” Hopp said. “There are always different projects going on, so there will be stainless steel and mixed metals, or items like scrap wood and shipping pallets that need to be picked up around base.”

The money collected from recycling at Arnold goes back to the base recycling program.

“Our recycling program at Arnold assists the complex in meeting the ‘Make Every Dollar Count’ effort, a top priority of the Secretary of the Air Force,” Hopp said. “The effort is aimed at minimizing costs, harnessing efficiencies and redefining legacy Air Force business paradigms.”

Annually, with base-wide support, Arnold recycled and diverted the following:

  • 155,000 pounds of cardboard
  • 35,000 pounds of mixed paper products
  • 19,000 pounds of type 2 plastic
  • 1,500 pounds of aluminum cans
  • 4,000 wooden pallets (collected and reused)
  • 325,000 pounds of scrap wood

Though seeing success in much of the center’s recycling efforts, Hopp said there are some challenges they face on base when collecting the recyclables.

“One of our current challenges are personnel not putting the items in the proper containers,” he said. “The other is that we have limited vendor support in the local area in which to sell the items gathered.”

As a way to assist personnel in placing the right item in the correct recycling containers, Arnold Recycling Center is in the process of upgrading the collection bins around base to have a non-touch option so physically opening the recycling container will not be necessary.

If you have questions for the Arnold Recycling Center or notice a full recycling container needing to be emptied, call 931-454-6068.