Fort Riley, Kansas



Tale of three bottles at Fort Riley

By Chris Otto | Recycle and solid waste coordinator | April 16, 2018

Once upon a time there were three plastic soda bottles sitting next to each other in a cooler at a Fort Riley Army and Air Force Exchange Service Express store. They were passing time by talking about life. The first one, who introduced himself as Red said he wanted to grow up to be something. He was tired of just sitting on the shelf holding 16 ounces of cold bubbly soda. He always felt he was destined to soar to new heights.

The second one, who went by Doc, told the others he had been a plastic bottle before and liked being a plastic bottle. He told the others that bottles like them are made from something called polyethylene terephthalate but since he had trouble pronouncing it he shortened it to PET. He told the other bottles he was once used to hold cola but was sent to a recycle center, then processed at a plastic mill where he was turned into a bottle again. He is now happy he again gets to hold a cool, refreshing beverage.

The third bottle, Dewey, had a bad attitude. He said he did not care what happened to him when he grew up as long as he was not sitting in some cold, boring fridge. He said he did not really spend much time thinking about the future.

Then one day, a man dressed in green bought all of them and took them away from the Exchange. They found themselves in a cooler with other bottles and a bunch of ice at Moon Lake. The bottles got to experience a unit organizational day. All of the soldiers and their families were having a good time because they had been recycling and had earned money for their Unit’s Morale Welfare and Recreation account through the Troop Incentive Program. That TIP money allowed them to upgrade the meal from hamburgers to steaks. As the Soldiers were washing down
the delicious vittles, the fates of the three bottles took drastically different turns.

The soldier who drank from Dewey also had a bad attitude. When he was done with Dewey, he put a rock in him and threw him into Moon Lake. Dewey ended up sitting there for many years where his only excitement was watching the giant channel catfish and the seasonally stocked trout swimming around.

Doc and Red found themselves in a large blue recycling bin and later in the back of a recycling truck where they made their way
to the Fort Riley Recycle Center. They were happy to learn they saved tax payers money since they were not put in a trash can which
would cost tax payer dollars to take to the landfill where they would just rot forever. They instead had fun riding the belts on the sorter that Fort Riley uses to separate materials. Once they got to the optical sorter, air jets blew them off the sorter belt and into a large cage with other bottles like them. That cage was dumped into a bailer and the two bottles found themselves packed into different bales. Those bales were kept in a warehouse until two trucks came and hauled them away to different plastic mills. Fort Riley’s Recycle Program had sold the bottles and was going to use the money from the sale to pay for the Recycling Center and to send money to MWR accounts for units who participated in

Doc, was happy when he found out he was turned into a soda bottle again. He was even more excited when he was taken back
to the same Exchange on Fort Riley where he was bought by another Soldier headed to an organizational day.

Red’s bale ended up going to a mill where the plastic was used to make Frisbees. He also ended up back on Fort Riley but was sent
to the Recycle Center where he and other Frisbees were to be given out to visitors. He sat there until a group of students from Seitz
Elementary took a tour of the Center. One student guessed that a bale of aluminum weighed 900 pounds and she won Red (who
was now a Frisbee) for her correct answer.

About a week later, Red, Doc, and Dewey were all reunited. However this time, Dewey was at the bottom of the lake, Doc got recycled
again, while the unit earned more TIP money, and Red got to fly through the air while all the kids played with him.

The moral of the story is, it pays to recycle. Not only can units earn money through the TIP program, they can save tax dollars, help reduce litter and give recyclable products new lives. To find out how your unit can earn money through the TIP program or to learn more about Recycling on Fort Riley, call 785-239-2385 or look for the Fort Riley Environmental Division on Facebook.