Dumpster Diving with the Recycling Assistance Section

On June 19, Tom Heil, Shannon Powers and J.R. Holt of the Recycling Assistance Section (RAS) conducted a waste audit, also known as a dumpster dive, for the Kentucky National Guard at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky.

IMG_2933.jpgLinda Mitchell, waste manager of the Kentucky National Guard, contacted Heil to discuss ways to grow the recycling program for the center, which has a steady stream of guard members, reservists, and active component units from every branch of the service taking advantage of its training opportunities.  Mitchell said they had two recycling trailers located on the premises, but they weren’t regularly being filled or taken to the Muhlenberg County Opportunity Center for sorting and processing.  Heil suggested the dumpster dive as a way of reporting to the fiscal officials responsible for the center what percentage of viable recyclables is being thrown away.

“The idea behind a dumpster dive is to separate the wheat from the chaff, or the recyclables from the trash,” said Powers.  “That way, officials can see what future cost-savings might be if they embrace recycling on a normal basis.”

The center collected two days worth of trash for guard representatives and RAS staff to go through and remove the aluminum cans, metal, cardboard, and other recyclables.  A log was kept on the weight of products in each recyclable category and each bag of trash that was placed back into the dumpster.  The final report indicated that 35.7 percent of the trash was suitable for recycling.  There might have been a higher percentage if some of the recyclables weren’t contaminated with food waste.

Recommendations to the center included:  establishing a formal recycling program under the authority of the center’s commanding officer; providing recycling posters, banners or containers in the offices, barracks and dining facility for the items to be collected; and placing the recycling trailers in centralized areas where the materials from each building can be consolidated.

For more information on dumpster dives, contact Tom Heil at 502-564-6716 or Thomas.Heil@ky.gov and check out http://waste.ky.gov/RLA/Documents/DUMPSTER%20DIVING%20101.pdf.