As workers return to their offices on Redstone Arsenal, Valerie Mason wants to ensure that employees at all the Army’s tenant organizations on post remember to recycle.

All organizations on the Arsenal are required to participate in the Defense Logistics Agency’s Qualified Recycling Program, which allows agencies to collect and sell certain types of discarded materials for a profit rather than simply throwing them away. Redstone Arsenal’s participation in the QRP is defined in Garrison Policy No. 200-5, which reiterates that “participation in the USAG-Redstone QRP is mandatory by all organizations and customers located on Redstone Arsenal unless there is an established, fully functional recycling program with solid waste reporting procedures in their chain of command.”

Mason works as an environmental engineer within the Garrison’s Directorate of Public Works. Though more than 200 tons of solid waste were recycled through the program in fiscal year 2020, she said the recycling program’s numbers have fallen dramatically over the last couple of years, largely due to the number of employees teleworking. Since more organizations are bringing their employees back on post, she wants to ensure that the recycling program is not neglected.

Through the QRP, Redstone Arsenal recycles paper, cardboard, toner cartridges and scrap metal, all of which are sold for a profit. Redstone Arsenal also recycles automotive tires, used motor oil, concrete, asphalt and lead-acid batteries, but these items do not fall under the QRP.

Mason encouraged Arsenal employees to use the recycling bins they may see in their offices, taking notice of the difference between the large, locked gray bins for confidential or classified materials and the smaller, blue bins for unclassified paper.

“I want to get it out there that this is a mandatory program, and that if people don’t have access to recycling paper or cardboard or toner cartridges, then I need to get to those folks,” she said. The DOD goal is for at least 40% of solid waste to be recycled, but Mason said more recycling is better because that means more profit for the installation. “We want to recycle as much as possible.”

The QRP also opens the door for Redstone Arsenal to partner with companies. Currently, Wolf Creek Federal Services collects, shreds, bales and sells all the paper that ends up in the gray “confidential” bins onsite at Redstone Arsenal. Mason said the Arsenal also has a new contract with Dixie Pulp and Paper, a local company, to recycle material in the blue bins.

Mason is hopeful that her reminder will encourage employees to begin recycling their paper, cardboard and toner cartridges again as they return to the installation.

“Hopefully as people come back to the office, and if we can get the word out that these items need to be recycled, we can get these numbers back up there,” she said.

Redstone Arsenal does not currently have a system for recycling plastic or aluminum, but Mason encourages people to bring those items home and take advantage of their local curbside recycling programs. Madison County residents can find more information about their local recycling program, the Recycling Alliance of North Alabama, at recycling-alliance.com.

If you have questions about the QRP, need help locating the proper recycling bins or believe your building is not participating in the QRP, Mason said to reach out to her by calling 876-1899 or emailing valerie.a.mason2.civ@mail.mil.

Recycling by the numbers

In fiscal year 2020, Redstone Arsenal recycled the following amounts through the Defense Logistics Agency’s Qualified Recycling Program:

44.77 tons of cardboard

98.22 tons of white paper

19.89 tons of toner cartridges

42.71 tons of scrap metal

204.59 tons of waste were diverted from the solid waste stream as a result.

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