Fort Hood’s Net Zero Waste by 2020 has been under way for a year and officials are preparing to come together to learn of the program’s challenges and successes.

The conference will bring Fort Hood leadership, the Directorate of Public Works and invited community partners together to discuss moving forward to the ultimate goal of closing Fort Hood’s landfill by 2020.

“It’s a good education opportunity as well as sharing what accomplishments we’ve made over the past year,” said Jennifer Rawlings, sustainability coordinator with public works’ environmental division. “We’re going to share stories on what right looks like.”

During the last part of the day, conference attendees will develop and share ideas for people to take back to their offices.

Fort Hood was one of six installations selected by the Army for its Net Zero pilot program and officials began efforts to inch the post toward that 2020 goal in December 2011 by creating four working groups: reduction, repurposing, recycling and marketing and outreach. Each group is composed of a cross section of Fort Hood’s population, including soldiers, civilian employees and contractors who have met to generate ideas.

One idea already put into effect is postwide yard sale days to encourage residents to repurpose and reuse instead of throwing away still usable household items. Two of these events were held in 2012 to coincide with spring and fall cleanup and 6 tons of unsold items were donated to charity.

Last year’s Net Zero goal was 45 percent diversion of all waste from the landfill, said Steve Burrow, chief of environmental programs. Public works fell short, reaching 44 percent. Next year’s goal is 50 percent diversion.

“We’ve got to make up for some lost ground,” he said.

The easiest area to make a positive impact on Net Zero is through recycling, Rawlings said, but educating people on what is recyclable isn’t so easy. Of all the waste currently going to the landfill, public works estimates 48 percent of it could be recycled through Fort Hood’s own recycle center.

“We just need to encourage people to create bins,” Rawlings said of on-post offices. “Just like trash bins, they are responsible for providing their own.

“Everyone has a role to play. They just need to pay attention to what they’re buying and what they’re throwing away,” she said.

The diversion goal for 2013 is 50 percent, and one effort expected to increase recycling is providing 96-gallon containers for each home in Fort Hood Family Housing.

“This is really important, because Fort Hood Family Housing is the No. 1 generator of waste on Fort Hood,” Rawlings said. Estimates expect recycling in housing to double once the 6,000 containers are distributed.

Mike Bush, Fort Hood’s new recycling program manager, will be conducting a “recycling 101” seminar during the conference to help with education.

“I look forward to presenting our new capabilities and being able to promote what we are doing in recycling,” he said.

Bush came on board less than three months ago and said he is looking forward to the challenge of Net Zero.

“There’s a lot of room to succeed,” he said. “It’s attainable.”

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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