Recycling Center paving Way to Net Zero 2020
Submitted by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Brandenburg, 7th MPADSentinel Staff
October 2, 2014
Senior commanders from across the installation visited the Fort Hood Recycling Center Sept. 23 for its environmental quality control council meeting.
The Recycling Center held the event as part of Fort Hood’s Net Zero 2020 campaign to help stop illegal dumping and to inform commanders of the benefits the center brings to the installation so they can disseminate the benefits to their Soldiers.
A Net Zero installation is one that reduces, reuses, and recovers waste streams, converting them to resource values with zero landfill over the course of a year. Fort Hood is a pilot installation striving to be waste free by 2020.
“The idea of being a pilot to reach Net Zero, I’m here to tell that’s not an option, it’s not a goal, it’s a requirement,” said Maj. Gen. Ken Cox, III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commander. “And it would be great to be able to say during our watch, ‘we made it a reality.’”
The Recycling Center is one way Fort Hood plans to meet that requirement. The center employs 40 personnel, and after covering its operating costs, and it returns as much as $150,000 per year back to the installation’s community. All of that money has gone on to sponsor various Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation events, such as fun runs, Fourth of July fireworks, golf tournaments and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers events.
In 2012, roughly 48 percent of all garbage that went into Fort Hood’s landfill was recyclable.
“In 2013, if we took all the recyclables that went into the landfill and had processed it and sold it, it would generate something like a million dollars that could go back into the community here at Fort Hood,” said Brian Dosa, Directorate of Public Work, director. “That’s why recycling is so important.”
However, the Recycling Center needs help to keep its operating costs low. Unsorted recycling and illegal dumping are the two largest factors that reduce efficiency and raise the center’s overhead. The simple act of dropping off garbage or non-recyclables in one of their blue bins causes Recycling Center workers to stop the recycling process and sort out the materials and dispose of it properly.
“The other thing we’re real serious about is that we are the first line of defense to make sure products are turned in the right way,” said Michael Bush, recycle operations manager for Fort Hood. “We do not take military equipment. We do not take communication equipment. We do not take anything with a stock number.”
So, how does the Recycling Center plan on increasing patronage?
“Right now, there is a challenge going on; you get 75 cents a pound for your cans, which is 10 cents higher than the local market price,” Bush said.
Also, the unit that recycles the most aluminum cans until Nov. 14 will receive $1,000 for its unit funds.
The Recycling Center has also greatly increased the different types of materials that it can process. When it comes to recycling, people generally think of cans, cardboard and plastic water bottles, but the Recycling Center can process so much more – any hard plastics like coat hangers and milk crates, white packing Styrofoam, all types of glass, toner cartridges, athletic shoes and small household appliances. The center will even take old lawn mowers, wood pallets and Christmas lights.
The center also offers several services for Soldiers to use when they leave the Great Place. It offers a scale service for only a $5 charge and all of the boxes a Soldier can carry.
“There is no reason for any Soldier to go and buy cardboard boxes when they are (receiving a permanent change of station) or moving,” Bush said. “We give them away for free.”
With 2020 just five years away and Fort Hood’s Net Zero campaign in full gear, now is the time to recycle “We should focus on doing the right thing,” Cox said.