U.S. Army, Fort Bliss, Directorate of Public Works - Environmental Division

El Paso

Fort Bliss, a 1.2 million-acre U.S. Army installation in El Paso, took a tough approach to tackle waste and it has paid off. With 20,000 soldiers and a population of nearly 150,000, including families, civilians, and contractors, Fort Bliss’s environmental division had its work cut out when planning methods to meet waste-reduction targets—including a 50 percent recycling and waste diversion rate by 2015.

Fort Bliss led the way as the U.S. Army’s first installation to offer single-stream recycling (the practice of collecting recyclable materials in centrally located bins without having to separate them) to its units, retail stores, restaurants, and partner organizations. Fort Bliss environmental division staff have made it convenient for everyone to recycle by placing more than 500 blue, six-cubic-yard recycling containers adjacent to garbage dumpsters across the installation, as well as by distributing 5,000 desk-side recycling bins for office recycling. Within a few short months, Fort Bliss saw an 84 percent increase in materials collected. Single-stream recycling resulted in 1,418 tons of paper, plastic, aluminum, and tin being recycled in 2009.

Fort Bliss also piloted its first litter-free event at the Amigo Airshow, which is held annually on Biggs Army Airfield. The two-day, high-flying event hosts 80,000 attendees. In support of recycling efforts, show promoters and Fort Bliss Recycling Center staff worked with vendors to provide “recyclable only” beverage containers, as well as trash and recycling receptacles in convenient locations to encourage event participants to recycle. Attendees responded overwhelmingly to recycling their trash, which has resulted in integrating permanent litter-free event components for all public events at Fort Bliss.

Fort Bliss holds additional activities that boost the success of its pollution prevention efforts, including: collection days for used electronics; document-shredding days; a permanent household hazardous waste collection site; and Reuse Roundups for soldiers being deployed to donate items to junior-enlisted families.

Fort Bliss also collects and recycles the following materials: scrap wood and metal, wood pallets, construction and demolition debris, oil and filters from military vehicles, spent brass-ammunition casings, on-post grocery store cardboard, ink and toner cartridges, tires, batteries, and even Christmas trees. For its 2009 total, Fort Bliss recycled more than 439,290 tons of materials.

While meeting its reduction requirements for solid waste disposal, Fort Bliss additionally improves the lives of our armed forces because income earned from recycling goes toward morale, welfare, and recreation programs.