FORT HOOD, Texas - Military and civilian leaders here joined Brig. Gen. Ronald Ragin, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and director of the Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works Brian Dosa for an Environmental Quality Control Committee meeting at the Fort Hood Recycle Center, April 20.
Dosa explained the purpose of the quarterly forum is to share successes, challenges and lessons learned with commanders and units, while balancing the mission and environment.
“We do these EQCCs to balance training and readiness with the realities of being a federal installation in the state of Texas and having rules we have to live by in terms of compliance,” Dosa said.
He added the benefits of Fort Hood recycling not only from an environmental standpoint but also the economics and support for community programs and events.
“It’s good for the environment and it is the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s not only a cost avoidance but a profit that comes back to pay the wages of the people who work here and give money back to the community for family and Soldier programs like the fireworks for the upcoming Freedom Fest.”
However, in recent years there have been challenges with the quality of products deposited in the recycle bins. While the transition to single stream four years ago has made sorting more efficient, it has also increased contamination.
Michael Bush, operations manager for Fort Hood Recycle, explained when food waste, plastic bags, sharps and ammunition are improperly disposed of it creates costs along with life and safety hazards for the team.
“If we are not getting the right products in our bins in then it makes our process more inefficient,” Bush said. “Every time we have to stop the line to unjam the screen, to fix the magnet or to do repair work, it leads to down time and increased costs.”
Specialists from the Ammunition Supply Point have collected a range of improperly disposed ammunition at the recycle facility that include 50 caliber, 25 mm caliber, 12 gauge shells and loaded 5.56 cartridge magazines.
The weight of the recycle equipment and fast-paced sorting and processing system can create pressure that can easily cause contaminants like a bullet to discharge or a lithium battery to start a fire or aerosol cans to explode.
“Since November 2018, we have had eight fires, and out of them, a majority were attributed to lithium batteries,” Fort Hood Fire Chief Sergio Campos, said. “The proper disposal is not to just throw them in your trash can or recycling bin. They can spontaneously combust, and have created about $100,000 worth of damage here at the recycle center.”
Pointing to a pile of recyclables mixed with paper and cardboard, Campos added that the product is a pile of fuel for combustibles.
“Individuals can get hurt and possibly lose their life,” he said.
Bush shared his team is here as a resource to help units and can accept a variety of items that include concertina wire, standard pallets, old lockers and cabinets, tent poles, lead acid batteries, fuel cans, and furniture following the 80/20 rule – 80 percent steel and 20 percent other material.
“In terms of keeping your motor pools clean, please think of Fort Hood Recycle,” Bush said. “We will see what you have, and once things are marked recyclable, you can just put them in our containers. We save you time and effort -there’s no paperwork or special turn-in procedures.”
Maj. Kandice Hines, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, a strong advocate for the installation’s recycle program recommended leaders share the knowledge learned during the recycle tour.
“As leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure we are committed to developing the future generations that will be leading the way,” she said. “I would encourage bringing your Soldiers to the recycle center for a tour and see exactly why this is important, what exactly the process is and where these products are going.”
The tour concluded with Ragin explaining the forum is a great opportunity to get Soldiers informed.
“I thank you for the education and I ask the units to continue to push recycling and put it in the right place,” he said. “I encourage you all to keep recycling and get the word out.”