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NEWS | March 26, 2014

Disciplined disposal: what to do with waste

By Senior Airman Austin Harvill 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Recycling requires minimal effort for maximum impact, according to the 733rd Civil Engineer Division environmental element.

By recycling some items, like plastic bottles, and properly disposing of non-standard recyclables, like batteries, environmental personnel from Langley Air Force Base and Fort Eustis believe Joint Base Langley-Eustis has an opportunity and a responsibility to lead the way in proper waste disposal.

"Recycling is all about savings," said Don Johnson, 733rd CED environmental protection specialist. "First and foremost, we are saving our planet by reducing what we put in landfills. Additionally, we actually make money when we recycle, and we use that money to further support a healthy environmental footprint."

More than 50 percent of the waste found in JBLE dumpsters is recyclable. Aluminum cans, plastics #1 and #2, paper and glass bottles found in dumpsters can all go to one recycling center, so community members don't even have to separate those items.

"The biggest difference we can make comes from our everyday trash," explained Jim McKown, 733rd CED environmental element compliance branch chief. "If people separate their common trash from recyclables, I think we can drastically reduce the amount of recyclables we toss out."

The following recycling tips only apply to community members accessing installation waste disposal. Residents of JBLE on installation housing follow different regulations set by the private companies in charge of housing.

While most common waste is recyclable, there are a few items that require special attention. Cardboard goes in separate, tan-colored dumpsters on both installations. Plastic bags, cellophane and Styrofoam are all non-recyclable plastics, but some supermarkets do have programs to collect plastic bags. Any recyclable item contaminated by grease, like old pizza boxes, belongs in the trash.

Most other items that are not food waste do have special procedures. Common items like batteries, Meals Ready-to-Eat, paint, aerosol cans, yard waste and electronics are potentially dangerous if not properly disposed:

Langley Air Force Base:
  • Items that go to 90-day site:
  • MREs
  • MRE heaters
  • Paint and paint thinners
  • Aerosol cans
  • Items that go to unit equipment manager
  • All electronics
  • Miscellaneous, broken training equipment
Fort Eustis:
  • Items that go to solid waste recycling center
  • MREs
  • Electronics
  • Items that go to hazardous waste accumulation facility
  • MRE heaters
  • Paint and paint thinners
  • Aerosol Cans
Since there are many types of batteries used by JBLE, both installations suggest contacting the appropriate office listed below.

To help organize all recyclables, especially in offices which consistently use non-standard recyclables like those listed above, McKown said every battalion or squadron-sized unit and organization at Fort Eustis requires an activity environmental coordinator to facilitate the environmental needs of the unit.

Additionally, all personnel assigned to Fort Eustis are required to take one of two annual, online courses, depending on position and rank. Those courses and additional information can be found at

Langley Air Force Base facilities have facility managers in charge of disposal. However, units need to continuously engage their primary and secondary unit environmental coordinators to stay up to date on environmental procedures. Langley personnel also must complete their environmental management system computer-based training.

"We want to recycle at least 65 percent of all our recyclable waste by 2020, and I don't think that is unachievable," said Johnson. "With proper training and motivation, I know JBLE can be the greenest installation there is."

For more information on where to properly dispose items, email at Langley Air Force Base or call the 733rd CED at 878-4123 for Fort Eustis.