FORT LEWIS, Wash. - It takes 34 aluminum cans to make a pound. Collect 2,600 pounds of the containers, and you've done something noteworthy.

Thirty-four Fort Lewis units competing in the annual America Recycles Day Aluminum Can Challenge hauled 78,000 cans to the Recycling Center. The 90-day challenge began Aug. 1 and ended Oct. 31.

"It was a huge undertaking," said Brendalyn Carpenter, sustainability outreach coordinator for the Environmental Division of Fort Lewis Public Works. "We are excited about so many units getting on board and taking part in the challenge."

Soldiers and family readiness groups from the units were recognized for their efforts during an award ceremony Nov. 13 at the Family Resource Center. Unit winners were named in three categories: Large Unit Category - 4th Squadron, 160th Special Operations Aviation, 147 pounds; Medium Unit Category - 63rd Ordnance Company, 115 pounds; and Small Unit Category - Western Region ROTC, 143 pounds.

"There were different strategies," said Carpenter of the can collection. "It was really exciting to see."

Winners received up to $250 for their unit fund accounts. They also were allowed to keep the revenue generated from their aluminum cans - 33 cents per pound.

MAMC Troop Command, which placed second in the large unit category, won the grand prize of a tour of the LeMay Car Museum for being the "most consistent recycler of the year." The unit made 22 deliveries to the recycling center since the end of the last challenge.

Civilians from garrison directorates also took part in the challenge. Public Works collected 307 pounds, followed by Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation-Golf Course (245 pounds), Logistics-Hazardous Materials Control Center (25 pounds), and Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security-Range Control (18 pounds). They received certificates.

"The aluminum can challenge is just one way that we demonstrate our commitment to this environment," said Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Barnes, garrison command sergeant major, who presented the awards. "The participants in this challenge are commended for your efforts.

"It takes a personal commitment and a willingness to set an example. Let's use this challenge as a springboard to other recycling opportunities. The real benefits will be realized over time as we commit to recycling year-round."

Last year was the debut of the aluminum can challenge at Fort Lewis. The six-week campaign in 2007 resulted in the collection of 1,100 pounds of the lightweight containers.

"Today, we more than doubled last year's total weight, recycling more than one ton of aluminum cans," Barnes said. "We filled one 30-yard and one 20-yard container."

The campaign's goal was to keep aluminum cans out of solid-waste containers on post and save the energy it takes to make new cans. It's all part of the Fort Lewis sustainability program, whose goal is to achieve zero net waste on the installation by 2025.

"With a concerted effort, Fort Lewis will continue to reduce its environmental footprint, set the pace for a sustainable future and secure our mission," Barnes said.

2008 Aluminum Can Challenge Winners:
Large Unit Category
1st - 4-160th SOAR, 147 lbs.
2nd - Madigan Army Medical Center Troop Command, 122 lbs.
3rd - A Company, Warrior Transition Battalion, 88 lbs.

Medium Unit Category
1st - 63rd Ordnance Company, 115 lbs.
2nd - HSB, 3-17 Field Artillery, 67 lbs.
3rd - C Company, 1-17 Infantry, 36 lbs.

Small Unit Category
1st - Western Region ROTC, 143 lbs.
2nd - B Company, 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 111 lbs.
3rd - U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine-West, 90 lbs.
3rd - HHC, 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, 90 lbs.
* Two third-place cash prizes awarded

Garrison Directorate Certificates
Directorate of Public Works, 307 lbs.
Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation - Golf Course, 245 lbs.
Directorate of Logistics - Hazardous Materials Control Center, 25 lbs.
Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security - Range Control, 18 lbs.

Bob Reinert is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16