FORT HOOD — Fort Hood is one of the largest military installations in the world. All those soldiers and their families generate a lot of waste, but now the post has gone "green" — and it's paying off in more ways than one.
Piles and piles of trash usually end up in the Fort Hood landfill, but now a big portion of that waste is in the hands of David Holmes and his team at the Fort Hood Recycling Center.
Holmes sifts through paper, aluminum, cardboard and other materials. Before taking the job at the center, Holmes said he didn’t give much thought to stuff he tossed out.
"Now it’s more personal," he said. "I'm a part of something bigger than how I used to see it in the first place."
He’s helping Fort Hood implement the Net Zero 2020 project. The post is one of seven Army installations doing the pilot program. The goal is to cut back on the amount of waste going into landfills and make more efficient use of water and energy.
Fort Hood is in its second year of the project.
Michael Bush is Fort Hood's recycling operations manager. He has been a key player in the program's success.
"By 2020 we want to be zero waste — whether that's through recycling, reducing, or re-purposing," Bush said.
So far, it's paying off for the environment... and for Fort Hood.
There's 20 percent less waste going into the landfill. The program has generated more than $2 million to pay for the center's operations and personnel. It's also paying for entertainment and recreation programs.
David Holmes is excited about that.
"We sponsor different events and all that, so it's a positive thing," he said. "That made me feel great!"
The program has been so successful, the center has expanded the list of materials it recycles, and families on post are pitching in.
"We help soldiers out, and they recycle their cans and stuff," Holmes said. "You see them getting involved. And it's like, 'I like this. I want to be a part of this.'"
Fort Hood hopes to be able to close its landfill in 2020.