Fort Hood celebrated America Recycles Day with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to educate the community about the installation’s new single-stream recycling center.
Spreading the word on how important it is to recycle and the economic and environmental benefits, ceremony attendees learned more about how Fort Hood is changing the way recycling is done.
“The easier that we make recycling for customers, soldiers and families, the more we can recycle,” said Brian Dosa, director, Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works. “Recyclable products like plastic bottles, cardboard, glass and paper can be put it into one container, without having to source segregate.”
During the ceremony, Dosa explained how the installation began looking for opportunities to divert waste when it was selected as a pilot for Net Zero Waste.
“In 2011, the Army selected us as a pilot installation to see how much waste Fort Hood could minimize from going into the landfill,” Dosa said. “We examined the contributors and recognized that our housing areas generated about half of the installation’s waste.”
The following year, a curbside single-stream recycling program was implemented in Family Housing and a 96-gallon recycle container was provided to each home. The amount of recyclables collected from 2012 to 2015 doubled in housing areas and the decision was made to implement a program for the rest of Fort Hood.
“Single-stream will help double our capacity at the recycle center, which leads to greater revenue and greater opportunity,” Col. Todd Fox, Fort Hood garrison commander, said at the ceremony.
The new center makes recycling simpler for soldiers and families, helping to have less material end up in the landfill and more products recycled.
“It’s great for the environment and has a secondary effect of raising revenue that goes back into our family programs,” Fox said. “It’s about changing culture so that we can do the right thing.”
Hector Nunez, supervisory logistics management specialist, Fort Hood Recycle, explained how the recycling program gives back to the community each year.
“Fort Hood Recycle sponsors events like the fireworks for the Fourth of July Independence Day celebration, music on the lawn series, UFC fights, Oktoberfest, Month of the Military Child and other soldier and family events,” Nunez said. “We average giving back over $100,000 per fiscal year to support these community events.”
The new single-stream recycle center helps to streamline operations, processing up to eight tons an hour.
“Single-stream has made it easier to handle material,” said Kevin Davis, material handler and sorter, Fort Hood Recycle. “The equipment helps us to quickly move and separate recyclables, providing better quality products.”
Eight drivers collect recyclables from more than 1,800 containers across the installation. Once the material arrives at the recycle center, unacceptable materials, like trash and plastic bags, are pulled out before being pushed onto the belt for processing.
“The material is then pre-sorted by a series of conveyors and machines that help route the material to specific sections for a final sort,” said Michael Bush, recycle operations manager, Fort Hood Recycle.
During a demonstration, Bush explained how the upgraded recycle center relies on machines to do most of the sorting, using vibrating screens, magnetic belts and gravity to separate materials.
“Recycle employees do a final hand sort in order to take out products not captured in the automatic system and to reroute any recyclables that end up in the wrong place,” Bush said. “At the end of the process, recyclable materials are bundled up and sold to various markets to create new products.”
Exceptions to single-stream recycling include scrap metal, holiday lights, toner cartridges, pallets, small household appliances and civilian clothing and shoes. These miscellaneous recyclables will need to be taken to the recycle center.
To prevent equipment damage, plastic bags, film and wrappers cannot be mixed with single-stream materials.
“We had a couple of maintenance issues due to plastic bags, but we want to keep the program in place and change the culture to keep as much material out of our landfill as possible,” Bush said. “Plastic bags are accepted at the recycle center and can also be recycled at both commissaries.”
Fort Hood continues to lead the way and explore opportunities to make recycling easy.
“Single-stream is a win-win for the environment and the Army,” Bush said. “We are excited about new partnerships and the ability of the Army to create value for all its stakeholders.”
The people behind the program add to its success.
“Recycle is one of the strongest teams on Fort Hood and it shows,” said Timi Dutchuk, chief of environmental programs, Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works. “We are one team, single-stream.”
If you are a Fort Hood unit, contractor or civilian activity looking for an opportunity to be a part of the single-stream team, pick up desk-side containers and 35-gallon recycle containers free of charge. Activities can come by the Fort Hood Recycle scrap yard, off of 72nd Street, and pick up containers for their footprint.
For information about recycling on post, call 254-287-2336.