The Fort Hood military post of Killeen, Texas, has made major efforts over the past few years to ramp up recycling efforts, and their pursuits have paid off. The community’s Fort Hood Recycle Center generated roughly $1.4 million in 2013 alone, and plans to continue to generate more revenue by incorporating further recycling initiatives within the area. These efforts are part of an overall goal Fort Hood has of being completely waste-free by the year 2020. Among the major products being recycled is polystyrene foam, which is often mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam®, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company. Polystyrene foam makes up many forms of single-use foodservice items such as take-out containers and hot beverage cups.
According to Mike Bush, the military post’s Director of Public Works, polystyrene foam played a large role in allowing the community to recycle 765 tons more material than it did in the previous year. According to Bush, polystyrene foam is “probably the most valuable plastic; it’s 80 to 90 percent air, so (the machine) compresses it down and saves a lot of room in the landfill.” Fort Hood is able to compress the foam waste and then process it into a compound that is purchased by manufacturers, who often use the new material in the production of consumer goods, such as picture frames. Through this effort and other recycling measures, Fort Hood was able to decrease the amount of waste it sent to their area landfill by 647 tons.
Another recycling challenge the base is tackling head on this year is the need for further education on the topic. According to Jennifer Rawlings, the sustainability coordinator with the public works’ environmental division, the population within Fort Hood is constantly changing and rotating, which in turn means there is a continuing need for education. Rawlings hopes that by creating a recycling “culture” within the base, new residents will feel encouraged to participate and do their part. Rawlings has implemented specialized community trainings to take place four times a year to educate new base residents and soldiers on their efforts. Fort Hood aimed to have 50 percent of its collected waste diverted from landfills in 2013, but was just shy of reaching this goal after coming in at 48 percent. Their new goal for 2014 is to divert 55 percent of its waste from ending up in landfills.
Source: Fort Hood Herald