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Recycling center makes changes to avoid excessive, illegal dumping

Scott Recycling Collection Area Info Graphic. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Alexandria Hearn)

Scott Recycling Collection Area Info Graphic. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Alexandria Hearn)

Scott Recycling Center Collage. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Alexandria Hearn)

Scott Air Force Base is making changes to its Recycling Collection Area to promote a more efficient and cleaner center. The recycling center is now only open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, instead of 24/7, which should help alleviate the major problem of illegal dumping. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Alexandria Hearn)

Scott Recycling Center Collage. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Alexandria Hearn)

Scott Air Force Base is making changes to its Recycling Collection Area to promote a more efficient and cleaner center. The recycling center is now only open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, instead of 24/7, which should help alleviate the major problem of illegal dumping. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Alexandria Hearn)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Scott Air Force Base is making changes to its Recycling Collection Area to promote a more efficient and cleaner center.

The recycling center is now only open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, instead of 24/7, which should help alleviate the major problem of illegal dumping.

According to Mark McCoy, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron’s pollution prevention and cultural resource manager, the recycling center is usually hit heaviest on the weekend with people not only overflowing the bins, but also dumping illegal items such as large appliances and TVs.

“The new hours should help since our contractor only picks up recyclables during the week anyways.  But, even during the week, there has still been an ongoing issue with illegal dumping that fills up the bins for others or causes my staff extra work and fees to dispose of the waste the right way,” said McCoy.

The center is designed to hold specific recyclable materials that are picked-up “as needed” by the contractor, and misuse hinders the efficiency of the area. Typical household trash, large bulky furniture, and electronics have been particularly problematic. Violators have even left materials outside of the bins and at the main entrance gate.

The contractors are not obligated to pick up the unwanted materials; rather the costs and labor to perform unnecessary clean-up falls on the government, said McCoy.

The center is available for those who have access to the base and has recently installed larger bins to maximize capacity. However, the unattractive overflow continues.  A simple solution to this is for users to break down their cardboard boxes and other large materials since that is partially why the bins fill up fast.

“It’s not a matter of the contractor picking up the materials more frequently because they are required to remove the items when the bins reach a fill-threshold already,” explained McCoy. “It’s really about not filling the bins in the first place with the unauthorized materials.”

Mr. Hector Gonzalez, 375th CES operations flight deputy, and his team manage the large items that are illegally dumped.

“The area is under surveillance, and we’re working right now with security forces on appropriate ways to respond to those who may refuse to comply.  However, the issue isn’t just at the recycling center … people have been dumping unacceptable items into bins throughout the base. When they do that, my team has to go pick it up and figure out a way to properly dispose of the items.  That just puts more unnecessary work on my team and creates additional costs for the installation,” said Gonzalez.

Patrons are asked to take note of acceptable and restricted materials. Signs have been posted near the bins indicating the acceptable items which include metal cans, junk mail/magazines, dairy and juice containers, brown bags, newspaper, bagged shredded paper, plastic bottles/containers, and flattened cardboard and paperboard.

Restricted items consists of food waste, three-ring binders, plastic bags and bubble wrap, electronics, printer toner cartridges, fluorescent light bulbs, and polystyrene foam cups/containers. Mattresses and car parts are also not allowed.

There are many off-base and local businesses that do accept the prohibited materials, and the installation plans to host another electronics recycling/paper shredding event in April. 

The recycling center is located south of the train tracks near the Mascoutah gate at 34020 New Mexico Street.  For more information, call 256-2092/9441.