FORT POLK, La. — Like everything else, Fort Polk’s Qualified Recycling Program’s Recycling Center, bldg 3620 ⁄ 3622, located at the corner of Georgia and Maine avenues, had to close down during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Now that the order has lifted, Terrill Turner, Directorate of Public Works Environmental and Natural Resources Management Division, environmental protection specialist installation recycling program manager, said he wants to get the word to the Fort Polk community that the QRP Recycle Center is open for business.
Turner said he encourages folks to bring their recycling to the center. The QRP’s hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
“It will be business as usual with the exception of implementing new safety procedures, such as social distancing and wearing masks, in addition to wearing our normal safety equipment. People are welcome to come inside QRP to recycle. They can drive through the bay and we will take the recyclable materials from their vehicle,” said Turner. “That option is important when they recycle something that doesn’t belong in one of the bins outside.”
Kristoffer Rector, QRP operations manager, said the Fort Polk community could continue to use their 24-hour, drop-off bins in front of QRP’s gates.
“I don’t want people to be scared with everything that’s going on. They can come down to the recycle center; and if it’s supposed to go in the bins, they can throw their stuff in and never see us,” he said.
The bins are for aluminum cans, cardboard and number one plastics.
QRP recycles a wide spectrum of items — cooking oil, used motor oil, paper, cardboard, number one plastics and aluminum.
Turner emphasized that the Recycling Center only takes number one plastics.
“People tend to bring their other, higher-numbered plastics; we try to take out what we don’t recycle, but we aren’t designed to sort through the different types of plastic,” he said.
Recyclables processed by the Recycling Center are sold to vendors throughout the U.S. After accounting for operational costs and new equipment purchases, a garrison board of directors, called the QRP committee, decides how to allocate remaining profits.
“The money made at QRP makes us self-sufficient. Additional profits allow us to support FreedomFest; Riches for Recycling — a program that gives back to the units that recycle; pollution prevention; energy projects; environmental support, such as the annual Earth Day; restocking Catfish Cove; and prize donations for the kids at the Catfish Derby,” said Turner. “Projects are submitted to the board. They review the projects and distribute QRP money for those projects. One of the latest projects helped finance upgraded LED lighting at an airfield hangar.”
Submitted projects must fall under one of four categories: Pollution prevention, energy, safety and Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
Turner said that’s why the community should keep recycling; they are not only helping the environment but the installation as a whole.
“That money is used to complete projects and finance events that benefit the Fort Polk community. We want them to know we appreciate everything the community does,” he said.
A return client to the Fort Polk Recycling Center, Dennis Kay, said he thinks the center is a convenient and beneficial facility.
“It’s the responsible place to bring items so they don’t end up as litter or in the trash. These guys do a good job,” said Kay.
Another program QRP promotes is the Re-STORE — the program keeps perfectly good office supplies, like file cabinets and desks, out of landfills and saves the government money by using the items for other units, instead of buying new items. Units can bring excess office supplies to QRP for storage, and others can sign out what they need, free of charge.
Rector said the recycling at the Fort Polk Recycling Center helps sustain a better future.
“Protecting the environment is essential. We are saving trees by recycling cardboard and making new products out of it. We are talking about millions of pounds of cardboard being saved from landfills each year,” he said. “The culture is changing for the better.”
Chris Bergeron, QRP technician, said the Fort Polk Recycling Center sees tons of recyclable materials come through its doors.
“I think our work impacts Fort Polk in a positive way because we are accepting items commonly found on the side of roads, in ditches or landfills — what would otherwise be classified as trash,” he said.
People move to Fort Polk from all over the Army.
Eddie Meridith, QRP technician, said one of the first things he sees people look for in their new home is a place to recycle.
“What we do is important to the Fort Polk community and the environment,” he said.
Follow The Fort Polk Recycling Program on Facebook for tips on recycling and reducing waste and additional information on Fort Polk recycling events.
“People can find articles, post events and education and craft projects on the page,” said Turner.