FORT HOOD, Texas -- Deep in the heart of Texas sits Fort Hood -- home of III Corps Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division, 1st Army Division West, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and several separate brigades, tenant units, and organizations.
With a post population of 61,778 individuals on the installation's 218,823 acres and a $35.4 billion economic impact to the state, Texas has many reasons to love Fort Hood. Among them is a stellar Recycle Team comprised of 35 personnel who empower stakeholders to be good stewards of the environment.
Fort Hood's Qualified Recycle Program, known as the QRP, is among the best in the Department of Defense for the volume of material recycled and diverted from the landfill -- a feat that earned the program a 2017 Secretary of the Army Environmental Award.
"I am very happy that the Fort Hood Recycle team was recognized for its hard work this past year," Michael Bush, business operations manager, Fort Hood Recycle, said. "Everyone at Fort Hood Recycle and the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division should be proud of our accomplishments and know that our daily efforts to get better do not go unnoticed."
"We have the best recycle team and recycling program in the Army and I am thrilled that they have received this recognition to validate that," Brian Dosa, director of public works, said.
The Fort Hood Recycle Team boasts the largest recycle facility in the Army. A recent $3.5 million upgrade more than doubled the center's processing capacity, reducing the time to process 8,000 pounds of recyclables from two days to four hours. The mission is simple: reduce material sent to the landfill to save cost and extend the life of the landfill, and use profits from these activities to help fund program costs, capital improvements, pollution prevention projects, and community events.
Helping achieve this success is placement of 1,700 containers throughout the installation and allowing for materials like cardboard, plastic, metal, paper, and glass to be commingled. Fort Hood's efforts in FY16-17 exceeded a whopping 27.2 million pounds of recyclables that generated $2.74 million for the community.
Some of the program's many 2017 accomplishments included investing $89,000 of recycle proceeds into sponsoring Family and Soldier events, collecting an average of 33 pounds of recyclables per month per household, and collecting and recycling 6,784 pounds of Styrofoam.
Additionally, the Recycle Team leverages opportunities to train Soldiers, civilians, and contractors as Environmental Compliance Officers, who then oversee compliance in their areas of operation and provide training to all personnel. In FY17, the Fort Hood Recycle Team helped train 205 individuals.
Partners are key to Fort Hood's success. For example, a 2017 surge event encouraged units to clear serviceable and unserviceable items from their CONEX containers. The event resulted in more than a million pounds of excess equipment -- including approximately half a million pounds of scrap metal that generated $22,583 in recycle revenue. The Environmental Compliance Assessment Team contributes to the recycling effort through assessments and by informing activity staffs about Fort Hood services like the recycle program.
Fort Hood stakeholders are working together to help meet its Net Zero Waste goal of eliminating landfill waste by 2020 -- realizing that it requires a community effort of recycling or repurposing more and wasting less. Since the implementation of the Net Zero Waste program, solid waste disposed of decreased from 46.8 million pounds in FY10 to 36.3 million pounds in FY17.
Throughout the year, the Recycle Team actively engages with employees, stakeholders, and external communities via online and print media to announce events and activities. The installation's largest environmental education event -- the 2017 Fort Hood Earth Day -- involved 1,041 students from four communities rotating through 28 environmental presentations.
The Team also participated in the Cen-Tex Sustainable Communities Partnership, a regional collaboration with seven neighboring communities. Additionally, Fort Hood worked with partners to host the FRIENDS Leadership event, which connects military student leaders with the Fort Hood community while providing mentorship and leadership development. Last year, 84 area high school students participated; they spent 252 volunteer hours on recycling, litter prevention, and forestry projects.