By Cathy Kropp (USAEC)May 31, 2012
At Fort Hood, recycling is a requirement, not an option, and that attitude helped them win the team category for environmental quality in the FY 2011 Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards Program.
Each year Fort Hood's Team Recycle establishes goals and objectives to continuously improve their operations, increase the amount of material recycled, seek new opportunities to grow the program, and continue public education and outreach events for local communities.
"It is everyone's responsibility to think and act green and make recycling a part of their daily routine," said Jaycee Turnquist, Recycle Operations Manager. "More recyclables means more money for Fort Hood Soldiers and support for Family events, while helping the installation work towards Net Zero Waste 2020."
When Fort Hood initiated the program in 1992, it sold 600 tons of recyclable material. During fiscal years 2010 and 2011, the Recycle Center sold over 17,500 tons of recyclable material, including cardboard, white paper, mixed paper, newspaper, maps, plastic, pallets, toner cartridges, cooking oil, aluminum, brass and scrap metal.
Fort Hood is always looking to expand recycling services and their program through new locations and new products to collect, process and sell. In 2003, Team Recycle took over the on-post collection program, previously accomplished through a contract. After the first 90 days, the team increased the amount of material recycled from 350 tons per month to 500 tons per month. The amount of material recycled continues to grow each year.
The team expanded their collection and now receives materials from the city of Killeen's Community Recycling Center and the city of Copperas Cove. They also coordinated with six community post offices to collect undeliverable third-class mail, each averaging about 9,500 pounds per week.
The Central Texas Sustainable Communities Partnership was established in 2009 between Fort Hood and the communities of Killeen, Copperas Cove, Harker Heights and Gatesville. These communities recently initiated a feasibility study for a regional recycling facility to maximize cost sharing and profit sharing.
Fort Hood's Recycle Program is the largest in the Army, and their success was the impetus for that initiative. Fort Hood's program is self-sustaining and supports other community events and pollution prevention projects. The partnership hosted a recycling forum last November to evaluate pay as you throw, single stream collection, and new ways to collect and process recyclable material with Central Texas community members.
"Our mission is to be good stewards of the environment and increase recycling beyond Fort Hood and off post through outreach and partnerships," Turnquist said. "It's all a part of Team Recycle."
Team Recycle is dedicated to supporting Fort Hood's military mission priorities and preserving natural resources through solid waste management and recycling, but has also established and maintains strong relationships with communities outside the installation gates.
When Killeen's Independent School District was experiencing challenges in relation to their limited recycle service, Fort Hood's Team Recycle stepped in to help out. In February 2011 they formed a partnership that increased recycling efficiencies for the district and helps give back to the Fort Hood community. This partnership is so successful, it was extended to two middle and seven elementary schools, collecting more than 10 tons of recyclable material last year.
The Fort Hood Team Recycle outreach program includes: Christmas Parade floats made from Recycling Center materials; a secure shredding event for the community; a regular turn-in schedule for household hazardous waste; and annual events for Pollution Prevention Week, America Recycles Day, and Earth Fest, an Earth Day event.
The team spreads the word about their programs on-post at quarterly Environmental Quality Control Committee meetings, monthly Community Services Council meetings, semiannual Hood Howdy information fairs and monthly newcomer briefings.
Fort Hood's Recycle Program is a cost-efficient, profit-making, self-sustaining program used as a benchmark by others. The team has helped eight other military installations improve their qualified recycling programs, and most recently shared their expertise with Fort Bragg and a number of Air Force bases.