The Fort Hood Recycling Program was first started in 1992 and has developed and improved so much that it now boasts the largest recycling facility in the U.S. Army. The program has outgrown its original 17,500 square foot processing facility and in recent years added an abundance of high tech recycling equipment, which has in turn saved the installation thousands of dollars and gained Fort Hood positive national attention.

No one knows the program better than Jaycee Turnquist, Recycle Operations Manager, who has been with the program since its beginning 16 years ago. "We are doing everything we can to achieve our goals because we want the program to survive," said Turnquist. "We want to stay here."

Housed under the Directorate of Public Works, Fort Hood's Recycling Program is executed by an environmental division of 40 personnel, who focus their efforts primarily on recycling and solid waste diversion. Each year, the team has a new goal to meet, and the program has surprisingly continued to maintain great success even through a weathered economy.

"Last year, our goal was to collect 9,000 tons of material. Our goal this year is 10,000 tons, and next year it's 11,000," said Turnquist. "We have more than exceeded our sales goals each and every year, ensuring funds are available for the next year's operations."

Through the installation's extraordinary efforts, the recycling program has significantly improved and expanded in a variety of ways. At the beginning of the recycling program in 1992, Fort Hood sold a total of 600 tons of recyclable material. In fiscal 2008 and 2009, Fort Hood upped that to 17,132 tons of recyclable material, nearly 30 times more than their starting levels. The program uses a large indoor storage capacity to collect raw materials, process and market them after quality assurance.

The team has also carefully mapped out several collection routes to maximize the amount of recycling on the installation. The goal of the program is to collect 100 percent of all cardboard generated annually on Fort Hood, including cardboard generated during permanent change or station move-ins.

But those who manage Fort Hood's Recycling Program make sure that their hard work does not go unnoticed. "We spend 30 to 40 percent of our time in outreach, talking to others and getting the word out about the program and our efforts. We hold an average of 10 to 15 events on Fort Hood quarterly, promoting and informing others about the recycling program," said Turnquist. The entire team is committed to spreading the good news about the program.

"The team members work to be involved in the community. We have been involved with 'Make a Difference Day' since its origin 14 years ago, and our team is also involved annually in 'Relay for Life' in central Texas, raising more than $1500 this year to support the cause. We have a presence in all of the events in the area," said Turnquist.

'America Recycles Day' is an event which serves to raise public awareness about the economic and environmental benefits of recycling. The team also participates in GIS Day, Pollution Prevention Week, Household Waste and Bulk Recycle Collection event, and Earth Fest to emphasize that environmental stewardship is important to everyone. The recycling team even created a float made from recycled material, which goes on display at Killeen's annual Christmas parade.

The recycling team has posted signs around Fort Hood to promote recycling and remind all of those on the installation to take part in this important initiative. "One of our signs prompts, 'Have you recycled lately''" said Steven Burrow, chief of environmental programs for the installation.

The team's goal is to educate and inform those living and working on and off the installation to pitch in with the recycling program and Fort Hood's other environmental initiatives. The team's success is now being recognized nationwide as they are being asked to reach out to other Army installations in hopes of helping them improve their recycling programs.

"We are being used as a model for other Army installations out there. I get e-mails every week from other installations asking for advice on how to improve their recycling programs to be more like ours. We have helped eight installations and currently we are working with Fort Bragg, N. C., and multiple Air Force bases to help them improve their programs," said Turnquist.

The Fort Hood Recycling Team is also expanding their recyclable collection by receiving materials from their neighbors in Killeen, Harker Heights, Salado and Copperas Cove's through their community recycling centers, along with coordinating with six community post offices in Killeen, Harker Heights, Belton, Temple, and Fort Hood. Seven moving and storage companies are also participating in the recycling program and deliver their cardboard directly to Fort Hood's Recycling Center. Fort Hood is coordinating with several nonprofit organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, to recycle building materials, which in turn increases the life of landfills while allowing nonprofit organizations to use newly recycled materials.

"We attend monthly Environmental Compliance Officer courses and the Community Service Council meetings to continue informing others about our program. We also meet with mayors in the central Texas area to offer advice about recycling strategies and tactics that can benefit the entire community," said Turnquist.

The program has also developed a recycling incentive program, which challenges and recognizes units on Fort Hood for their exemplary recycling performance each quarter. The challenge awards a first, second and third place prize to each unit, based on the total amount of recyclables they collect, which in turn saves the installation money. Since the start of the challenge in 2009, the recycle program has collected 171,848 pounds of recyclable materials.

Through the consistent effort of the recycling team and the continued support from the community, Fort Hood's Recycling Program is stronger than ever. "I believe in a wholly continuous improvement process. We are going to fight to get to our goals. It's all achievable if we keep working at it, it's all a continuous effort," said Turnquist.

When asked where he saw the future of the program, Burrow borrowed a line from a Disney movie and said, "To infinity and beyond!"

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