As millions of people around the world observe Earth Day on April 22 this year, the Air Force is challenging every member of the Air Force family to do his or her part to conserve natural resources, minimize waste and prevent pollution.
"I challenge all Airmen to think about pollution prevention in new ways," said Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff. "We all need to understand that we can make a difference in managing waste so we can find cleaner, more cost effective ways of accomplishing our mission."
Like Andrews, installations across the force are taking aggressive strides to enhance sustainability and cut costs.
One endeavor the Air Force has undertaken to improve sustainability is by modifying current processes to incorporate innovative, environmentally friendly technologies.
The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is leading efforts to reduce the pollutants and heavy metals currently involved in stripping paint from Air Force planes.
Tom Naguy, senior program manager for environment and energy in the AFRL's materials and manufacturing directorate, is overseeing the project. The robotic "de-painting" system uses a laser as an effective and environmentally safe alternative to existing processes.
Strategic reuse of products and materials, where appropriate, is another way the Air Force is slashing costs and controlling its waste stream.
Hill AFB, Utah, is saving money and simultaneously reducing hazardous waste by implementing solvent filtration systems which allow multiple re-use of cleaning solvents used for aircraft parts, said Guy Whalen, environmental representative for the Commodities Maintenance Group there.
The Air National Guard's 187th Fighter Wing in Alabama successfully conserved energy by recovering all of its contaminated JP-8 fuel for use in aircraft ground equipment, said Lt. Col. Elmer Norvell, base civil engineer there.
At Andrews, the fuel and oil-contaminated absorbent pads produced through day-to-day shop and flight-line operations are centrifuged to separate out Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricant (POL) liquids, which are then recycled, and the serviceable absorbent pads are reused. This has dramatically reduced the amount of POL-contaminated wastes shipped through the hazardous waste program, resulting in significant cost savings to the base.
Even seemingly small changes can have large repercussions.
Implementation of a moving box exchange service at Fairchild AFB, Wash., resulted in the reuse of six tons of moving boxes and a savings of $5,000 for base personnel.
"I call upon every Airman to re-think how we approach waste in the Air Force," said Terry Yonkers, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics. "As the Air Force becomes leaner, we need to reduce the burden of waste disposal costs that impact our budget. Ask yourself what you can do to be a little greener and leaner in your workplace."
Recycling is another means of preventing pollution and diverting waste.
Located at Building 3347 on Celmers Lane on the east side of thebase, the Andrews recycling center makes use of discarded metals, plastics, paper and cardboard, keeping them out of landfills and back into use as different products.
The recycling center performs weekly pick-ups of paper products at individual facilities and can also schedule large one-time pick-ups of recyclables from any facility.
Other hazardous products, such as used motor oil or batteries may be taken to the recycling center for proper disposal.
To help emphasize the importance of individual efforts, the Air Force is promoting a "Blue Acts of Green" social media page.
Team Andrews members are encouraged to visit the site at www.facebook.com/blueactsofgreen to commit to perform an act of "green" at home or work to benefit the environment and prevent pollution.
"We must make a habit of being green, making the most of all the resources we use and looking for opportunities to conserve today for a secure tomorrow," said Erin Conaton, undersecretary of the Air Force and the Air Force senior sustainability officer.
To learn more about recycling at Andrews, call 301-981-6410.