With just three months under his belt as the Fort Hood recycling manager, Mike Bush has already found new ways to increase the amount of recycled products at Fort Hood and bring Central Texas to the world market.
“I thought they had a very good operation at the recycling center,” said Bush of his first impressions of the on-post recycling center that brings in nearly $1.5 million a year. “There’s definitely room to grow, but I thought the operation over there was solid.”
Bush plans to build on the solid performance of the center — which donates back to the community for events including Freedom Fest and Earth Fest — by accepting new products and reaching out to new buyers.
“What I want to do is set up a better supply chain — different buyers for different products,” he said.
Some of the products Fort Hood will begin to accept as recyclable include all types of plastic, plastic bags, athletic shoes and even Styrofoam.
The center will have to purchase a machine to bundle Styrofoam into a sellable product, which typically gets remade into picture frames, but Bush said he believes it will have a positive impact on the center’s bottom line.
“We need to identify products currently being thrown away that we can capture and make money on,” he said.
Recycling has to be green on both sides, Bush said. It benefits the environment, but also brings in some green.
“On the back side, if there’s no economic gain and you can’t make money, then you would soon see recycling not be as big of a priority,” Bush said.
Another way Bush plans to increase recycling is to visit different on-post entities and see what they are throwing away.
“We really want to do a one-size-fits-one approach,” Bush said. “What the hospital needs isn’t necessarily what (the Defense Logistics Agency) needs.”
Bush’s ideas to expand recycling come as Fort Hood is continuing forward with its mission of “Net Zero Waste” by 2020. The three areas to divert waste from the landfill are reduce, repurpose and recycle.
Before coming on board, Bush was in charge of sales and marketing of recycled product for a company in Guangzhou, China.
This previous experience with international markets is what peaked the interest of Steve Burrow, chief of environmental programs for the Directorate of Public Works.
“We wanted to expand our marketing aspect,” he said. “If Net Zero waste is to grow, we need to be able to take advantage of the worldwide market and Mike can help achieve that.”
Bush said his knowledge of the end market in China can help improve Fort Hood’s already above-average product.
“I’ve actually walked the scrap yards with Chinese buyers and heard what makes a good load,” he said. “There’s really no reason why we can’t be locked into the world markets from Central Texas.”
When he learned of the zero-waste goal, Bush said it sounded challenging, but attainable, especially through expanded recycling programs.
“I think (recycling) has got a ton of potential. I’m looking forward to seeing the program grow throughout the post,” Bush said. “We want to bring everything from a recycling standpoint to Fort Hood that you could find