FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- To help Fort Drum comply with Army regulations, post officials are finding new initiatives to better educate the community on recycling, reusing and salvaging waste.

"Today's message was about waste avoidance," explained Jason Wagner, Fort Drum Environmental Division's Natural Resources Branch chief, during a postwide cleanup event held Thursday.

During the event, Environmental Division staff members handed out recycling information at the Solid Waste Transfer Station, Self-Serve Recycle Drop-Off Center, training area 5D land clearing debris landfill and the Hazardous Waste Storage Facility.

Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and civilians also were encouraged to clean up post by picking up litter around their facilities and properly disposing of the waste.

While at the Self-Serve Recycle Drop-Off Center, Wagner and his team of environmentalists handed out information about the center, spoke to people about the importance of recycling on post, and surveyed Soldiers and civilians to determine what they know about the post's recycling program.

Wagner said he considered the event a success, because "everyone who came to the recycling center got clarity (about) where to take recyclables."

Fort Drum is required and funded to handle its waste, which includes waste that is generated through all on-post operations and in the housing areas, explained Mark Clarke, Environmental Division's Prevention and Compliance Branch chief.

"It's improper and unlawful for anyone outside the gate to bring their waste onto Fort Drum to dispose of it," Clarke said. "(We) can't use Fort Drum funds to take care of someone else's waste."

Fort Drum's "qualified recycling program" is run by the installation's Directorate of Public Works, a team who picks up and processes all qualified recyclables for marketing and sale.

Last fiscal year alone, Fort Drum raked in about $952,000 for diverting more than 2,700 tons of recyclable materials from landfills.

This revenue comes from recycled nonconstruction materials such as expended brass,
cardboard, electronics, mixed metal and paper, newspaper, pallets, plastics, glass and motor oil.

"The money stays locally for our own use," Clarke said.

Under Department of Defense instruction, Fort Drum must use the money to pay for recycling costs, such as employment and equipment used for recycling, or environmental projects. The money also can be used to fund Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.

Clarke noted that not only does it "pay" to recycle, but also is required by New York state's environmental conservation law, as well as DoD instruction and Army Regulation 200-1.

That is why Fort Drum is focused on diverting solid waste away from landfills -- by recycling, reusing and salvaging -- to decrease the amount of waste entering a landfill.

Not only is it Army regulation for Fort Drum to recycle, but diverting recyclable materials from the trash extends the life of a landfill, Clarke explained.

During fiscal year 2011, Fort Drum was able to divert 80 percent of construction and demolition solid waste from landfills, and 29 percent of nonconstruction and demolition solid waste from landfills.

According to an executive order, by the end of fiscal year 2015, Fort Drum must divert at least 50 percent of both construction and demolition solid waste, and nonconstruction and demolition solid waste from landfills.

Although Fort Drum was able to divert more than 3,800 tons of waste from landfills last fiscal year, it still cost $384,000 to transport and dump the waste that could not be diverted at landfills. Fort Drum pays about $60 per ton to transport waste to the landfill.

"If we increase the amount of solid waste that was diverted, we're making more revenue and we're not paying to throw (the waste) away," Clarke said. "There's a lot of revenue out there to be made. There's a lot of diversion that we can succeed at."

New York state officials also are cracking down on what goes into the landfills, Clarke explained.
For instance, post officials can be fined if recyclable materials traced back to Fort Drum are found at landfills used by the installation.

Not only is Fort Drum able to divert recyclable materials from landfills by recycling, but a recent demolition project allowed one on-post contractor to salvage materials, therefore diverting it from a landfill.

In February, All Phase Services -- a company contracted to demolish nearly 200 World War II-era buildings on post -- donated gently used furniture from the barracks and administrative buildings to the Urban Mission's Impossible Dream Thrift Store in Watertown.

Clarke noted the Army requires contractors to salvage materials from construction and demolition sites, when possible.

Through construction projects on post, Fort Drum personnel have diverted asphalt, concrete and masonry -- which could have gone to landfills -- and used these materials for other projects on post.

"We repurpose a lot of (construction and demolition solid waste) on post," Clarke said. "If we can reutilize (materials) on Fort Drum, then we don't have to transport that anywhere; it's already here."

Environmental Division personnel want community members to do their part by reducing and recycling, he added.

Wagner noted it's important for the Fort Drum community to understand the recycling initiative process, by knowing how it works and why it works.

"There's a lot of misunderstanding out there. It's difficult to get a clear understanding with so many directorates and the transient population," Clarke agreed. "That's probably out biggest hurdle -- getting the word out to all echelons."

The postwide cleanup is just one way officials hoped to educate the community. This summer, Environmental Division personnel will launch a website stocked with information about the post's recycling program, as well as recycling off post.

"We expect some changes down the road," Clarke explained. "We understand that we have an Army influx; we have seen a lot of deployments. This is an Army of war and the mission is war, not garbage."

Wagner said during the event division personnel received feedback from Soldiers, Families and civilians.

"We also learned a lot during the event," he added.

Officials plan to deploy new recycling centers -- for glass, metal and plastic collection -- outside the single Soldier barracks in August.

The survey given at the Self-Serve Recycle Drop-Off Center also was designed to determine what areas on post need new or additional recycling centers.