Recycling on base turns trash to treasure

April 22 marked the 45th annual celebration of Earth Day, and Hill Air Force Base joined the world in this annual pause to contemplate protection of the environment.

Hill’s commitment to managing the national resources we are charged with preserving here and at the Utah Test and Training Range is part of each Earth Day recognition, but this commitment is not just for Earth Day. We make a 24/7, year-round effort to conserve energy, water, landfill space and sustain clean air and natural habitats.

At Hill, we operate a Qualified Recycling Program. The QRP gathers disposed items to sell for profit — primarily scrap metal, used oil, and lead acid batteries — rather than sending them directly to a landfill for disposal. An industrial base like Hill AFB produces large quantities of these materials and much of this waste is recyclable and valuable. During fiscal year 2014, Hill AFB recycled 2,970 tons of scrap metal, 55,500 gallons of used oil, and 886 tons of lead acid batteries.

Profits from these sales remain on base for use in our morale, welfare and recreational programs. The QRP has helped fund the upgrades to the Carter Creek Recreation Area, paid for free evening child care for single military parents and helped purchase a ski boat, water kayaks and paintball and other sports equipment. The program has also funded environmental projects that reduce waste and improve workplace safety. 

Scrap steel is our most common recyclable material. Nearly all our steel scrap ends up at the NuCor Bar facility in Portage, Utah, where it is melted down and processed into materials such as rebar, angle iron, guardrail or some other steel product.

Brass, copper and aluminum are much more valuable per pound. Down the line, they too are melted down and processed into usable product.

Lead acid batteries are very valuable to recycle, not only for the revenue they generate, but the cost savings compared with disposal. If there were no means to recycle these, they would be very expensive to properly dispose of due to their hazardous nature.

Through the QRP, used oil can also be recycled. The amount of revenue Hill AFB receives is directly related to the value of crude oil and subsequently, gas prices. Basically, if gas prices are low, we don’t make as much revenue on used oil. If gas prices are high, we make more money.

While we have a successful recycling program, there is always more we can and should be doing and the QRP is one of our best environmental initiatives because: 

• The QRP program is designed to be easy to use. Call 586-3588; there’s no paperwork required and our QRP team picks up

• The QRP offers one- and two-cubic-yard tip dumpsters and other containers for your use in collecting scrap

• The QRP arranges for roll-off containers and flat-bed trailers for your big projects

• The QRP is self-reliant; it pays for its own operation and costs your organization nothing

• Your organization can propose projects to be funded by the surplus revenue generated by the QRP

One project the QRP recently approved was $55,000 for a couple of waste compactors building 843, a depot maintenance repair facility. These compactors will help mitigate high disposal and analytical costs of paint and blast waste. Additionally, the new compactors will help prevent spills, eliminate safety concerns and environmental contamination, along with increasing efficiency.

The QRP program also funded two new nonsolvent parts washers that will improve worker safety and reduce hazardous air emissions. Two oil storage tanks were funded, as well as a dormitory xeriscape project to reduce or almost eliminate the need for supplemental water for irrigation of the landscape. 

QRPs are regulated and are not to take the place of the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services (formerly known as DRMO or the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office). The QRP cannot take any item with a demil code of “b” or greater nor any equipment that is still usable or repairable. It is DLADS’ job to handle those items.

Hill AFB is dedicated to sustaining and managing our natural resources by doing our part in recycling. The QRP program is taking what would be waste or trash and turning it into treasure, literally, for our Airmen. We thank all the organizations here who use the service and welcome those who have not discovered the QRP program to give them a call to discuss recycling.