Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
“This is illegal dumping,” said Michael Kreutzer, environmental protection specialist and solid waste/recycling program manager, referring to the trash piled in the southeast corner of the Fort Leavenworth Recycling Center on West Warehouse Road. “Just because you see it doesn’t make it right to do it. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
The southeast corner of the Recycling Center is meant solely for scrap metal to be placed between the concrete jersey barriers, which is then picked up and recycled by a designated entity, Kreutzer said. However, some people have been dumping furniture, trash, electronic waste, tires and more.
“It’s very frustrating for our metal recycler who (has to) sort through that stuff,” Kreutzer said. “Part of this is scrap metal, but so much of it isn’t.”
Getting rid of the trash is also costing the government money, Kreutzer said.
“Every couple of weeks, we’re having to get a roll-off container out here, which is costing the government money — not just for the container, not just for the tipping fee, but manpower because the roads and grounds (crew) comes over with a bucket loader and they scoop up all that and load it into the roll-off,” Kreutzer said. “It’s taking them away from cutting grass and doing all the work that they need to do.”
It also affects Fort Leavenworth’s diversion program, he said.
“We have to report to (Installation Management Command) Headquarters every six months what our diversion rate is. Diversion is how much weight we’re keeping out of the landfill — how much is recycling versus how much actually goes in the landfill. (Department of Defense’s) goal is to divert 50 percent of our solid waste to recycling,” Kreutzer said. “All this scrap metal that’s mixed in here, we’re going to lose on diversion because I can’t expect (roads and grounds crews) to separate it; they’re already taking time away from their other jobs.
“We’re at a 30 to 35 percent diversion rate and this (illegal dumping) is not helping us,” he said. “There is a congressional requirement that the military recycles. The military is trying to reduce its carbon footprint; they’re required to reduce their carbon footprint. This is how we do it, (but illegal dumping) is getting in the way).”
Kreutzer said it is also frustrating to see electronic waste items such as microwaves and vacuum cleaners, as well as recyclable cardboard in the illegal dumping pile because the proper place to dispose of those items are on the northeast and west sides of the same lot.
“That’s the sad thing,” Kreutzer said. “They were in the right lot. They just didn’t quite put it where it needed to go.
“Then, somebody actually came out and dumped garbage. It’s starting to smell like a landfill. That’s not sanitary, and it draws in wildlife,” he said. “A lot of families get their kids involved in recycling, and the last thing you want is your kids to come out, try to teach them recycling and how you’re supposed to do it properly and run them into a risk of getting sick or getting cut or whatever the case might be because it’s not sanitary.”
Trash should be disposed of in designated trash bins in the housing areas. Personal trash should not be dumped in trash bins outside government offices, Kreutzer said.
“All these dumpsters that are placed around the installation, those are for the organizations around the installation for government use only,” Kreutzer said. “The residential trash needs to go out in the residential (bins) or be taken to the Leavenworth County Transfer Station unless they have recyclables and that’s what this lot is for.”
Trash should not be disposed of in the recycle bins. Every time trash is placed in one of the designated recycle bins, more is lost in the diversion program because it all becomes designated as trash, Kreutzer said.
The Recycling Center has designated receptacles for glass, mixed recycling, cardboard recycling, retired U.S. flags, cellphones, batteries, eyeglasses, printer cartridges and other home electronic waste, except cathode ray tube televisions and computer monitors, which should be disposed of in the trash.
“We don’t want to lock this place up. We want people to be able to freely use this at all hours, but we want them to use it responsibly,” Kreutzer said. “We just want people to do the right thing. Just because it’s convenient doesn’t make it right.”
For a more detailed explanation of where and how to properly donate, recycle or toss unwanted items, visit The Fort Leavenworth Lamp website to read the May 6, 2021, article “Many options for unwanted items, waste” at https://www.ftleavenworthlamp .com/community/2021/05/06/many-options-for-unwanted-items-waste/.