Crates and barrels filled with brass casings are “money in the bank” for Fort Lee. Before it’s sold, the material is sent through specialized “popper and deformer” equipment to ensure it can be safely loaded, hauled away and recycled. The latest shipment of 37,180 pounds netted just over $87,000 for the installation. (U.S. Army Photo)
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Crates and barrels filled with brass casings are “money in the bank” for Fort Lee. Before it’s sold, the material is sent through specialized “popper and deformer” equipment to ensure it can be safely loaded, hauled away and recycled. The latest shipment of 37,180 pounds netted just over $87,000 for the installation. (U.S. Army Photo) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
A bucket loader dumps brass into a trailer bed so it can be hauled away for recycling. The program is part of the Qualified Recycling Program here. It is managed by the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Management Division with support from Logistics Readiness Center - Lee and Mission Integrated Contracting Command – Lee. (U.S. Army Photo)
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A bucket loader dumps brass into a trailer bed so it can be hauled away for recycling. The program is part of the Qualified Recycling Program here. It is managed by the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Management Division with support from Logistics Readiness Center - Lee and Mission Integrated Contracting Command – Lee. (U.S. Army Photo) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, Va. – About 1.5 million rounds of ammunition are fired each year on Fort Lee’s training ranges. Before exercises conclude, every expended brass casing is policed up by military personnel and turned back over to the supply chain.

Does anybody know what happens then?

The Qualified Recycling Program – managed by the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Management Division with support from Logistics Readiness Center - Lee and Mission Integrated Contracting Command - Lee – turns this trash into treasure. The program follows DOD guidance to collect and resell authorized scrap material and retain proceeds for improvements within the installation.

LRC recently processed the 37,180 pounds of brass shells collected during the fourth quarter of FY20, according to EMD representative John Allen. Before they’re sold, the casings are sent through specialized “popper and deformer” equipment, aptly named for their functions of super-heating the brass to ensure no explosive content remains and then mangling what’s left so it cannot be returned to live ammunition.

Commercial companies specializing in metal recovery submit bids for the brass. Allen said the most recent sale netted just over $87,000. Most of those funds go toward QRP’s operational expenses. The remainder is used for environmental initiatives and installation improvement projects related to safety, morale and recreation. In 2020, the QRP funded the purchase of reusable table cloths and dining ware for the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence. The Family and MWR Outdoor Recreation facility benefitted from the purchase of a new iSportman Hunting application.

“Funding allocation is decided at the annual QRP committee meeting each July,” Allen noted. “Any on-post organization that has an idea for pollution prevention, energy conservation or other endeavor that benefits our environment can contact us and request consideration for funding support from this program.”

The EMD email address is usarmy.lee.imcom.mbx.leee-emo-ft-lee@mail.mil.

Brass sale frequency here is expected to more than double in 2021 as a result of a new memorandum of agreement between the Fort Lee QRP and Joint Base Langley-Eustis, which doesn’t have the required equipment to demilitarize its brass.

“We’re anticipating three sales events this year, each averaging around 40,000 pounds, with a profit of more than $100,000 in all,” Allen said.

The proceeds will be split between the QRPs. This agreement, Allen observed, will “leverage labor and equipment resources to save the government thousands of dollars per year in disposal costs while generating significant revenue for both installations.”

The QRP’s brass recycling program is a shining example of Fort Lee’s effort to meet the Army’s “Net-Zero Waste Program” goal. It is part of a holistic strategy for managing existing energy, water and solid waste programs in a manner that results in a reduction in the overall consumption of resources to an effective rate of net zero by fiscal 2030. Community members contribute to that endeavor every time they reduce, reuse and recycle.