FORT HOOD, Texas - Military and civilian leaders joined III Armored Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe and Director of Public Works Brian Dosa for an environmental quality control committee meeting and tour, Oct. 26, at the Recycle Center here.
Dosa explained the purpose of the quarterly forum is to share successes, challenges and lessons learned, while balancing the mission and environment, with commanders and units.
“Representatives from units, garrison and across III Corps and Fort Hood come together and discuss how we can balance the mission of Fort Hood…with the realities of being a federal installation that falls under the state of Texas and EPA rules,” he said. “Some of you may ask yourself ‘how does recycling connect with readiness?’ By understanding, seeing and hearing from our team, you will be able to connect those dots.”
Michael Bush, recycle operations manager for Fort Hood Recycle, explained to leaders how the program earned $1.55 million in sales last year and offers services like roll-off containers and lead battery recycling to help support units.
“One of the hidden values of dealing with us, is that when you recycle, you do not have to do paperwork so that saves you a lot of time,” he said. “If you have a pallet of batteries prepared and it is shrink wrapped, we will pick that up. If you are doing a cleanup project, give us a call, we will schedule an appointment and come out and see what you have. We will drop off a 20, 30 or 40 yard roll off in your motor pool.”
During the tour, Bush shared how there have been challenges with items like food waste, diapers, needles and even dead pets ending up in the recycle containers.
“While we made things more convenient with single stream, it did increase our contamination. When people heard single stream, they just heard anything,” he said. “We hadn’t been recycling in Family Housing for a while. The contamination got a little bit out of control for us.”
Because of these challenges Col. Chad R. Foster, commander, U.S. Army Garrison - Fort Hood, lead an initiative with Fort Hood Family Housing Resident Advisory Board to revitalize the residential recycling program.
“Every time we recycle, we save space in our landfill…we generate revenue for Fort Hood that is used in a very specific way. It goes back to supporting community events like Freedom Fest that support you and your Families, your Soldiers and their Families, and the community,” he said.
“The Residents Recycle Responsibly Program, R3P, was just recently launched and we have distributed about 600 containers,” Ricardo Garcia, utility manager, and sustainability Fort Hood Family Housing, said. “This is a voluntary program and we are just asking you to sign the pledge and follow the rules. We want to make sure every time we bring a load, it’s clean and good to go.”
Bush explained the importance of sorting and separating recyclable materials like aluminum cans, milk jugs, white paper, and cardboard to maximize the long-term dividends of a successful recycling program.
“If we try to sale everything co-mingled, there is no market for it. If we can sort a high quality product, it will help our revenue immensely,” he said. “For aluminum cans, $0.60 a pound is the going rate. These range targets are HDPE so we put these in with the other HDPE bottles and plastics and right now its $0.10 a pound. Milk jugs are $0.58 a pound. We appreciate everyone that drinks milk, just like we appreciate the beer and soda drinkers – we make money on all of that.”
“What really grabs my attention are the prices per pound and what that does to put resources back into our community and this installation, which can then invest in other forms of readiness,” Bernabe said. “That really is powerful and it is important we share that part of the message as part of why we do this - certainly stewardship and taking care of the environment but there is a very real return here on our investment.”
The tour concluded with civilian and military recognition for the DPW quarterly Environmental Stewardship Award.
“Everybody here at Fort Hood knows what our mission is – its readiness; its training our Soldiers to fight, win and come back home from what our nation asks them to do. In order to do that very effectively for our Soldiers, we need a safe, sustainable place for them to accomplish their mission and their training,” Timi Dutchuk, chief of Environmental Programs, DPW, said. “We recognize military and civilian units and individuals for accomplishing that brilliant balance between military mission and environmental stewardship.”
Dosa and Bernabe then presented awards for civilian organizations and individuals to Air Field Support Battalion Fort Hood. They presented an award to William Harold, AFSBn-Hood, and military unit and individual awards to the 48th Chemical Brigade and Staff Sgt. Anthony Heckart with Thunder Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
“This was illuminating and educational for me,” Bernabe said. “There are so many reasons to do this…we want to take care of our environment and make sure we are good stewards of that.”
For information on recycling resources, call Fort Hood Recycle at 254-248-5441 or visit Facebook.com/FortHoodRecycle.