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Small changes at IRAHC reaping big benefits for Army, environment

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In response to an Army Medical Command sustainment policy, Ireland Army Health Clinic employees are showing how small changes can reap big benefits for the Army and the environment.

Randy Mize, the chief of environmental services, helped initiate a recycling phase at IRAHC that has slashed the estimated cost of collecting trash for 2017—from a projected $93,000 down to $36,000. How is that possible?

For starters, he said, the facility saved about $29,000 by getting rid of two-thirds of its 18 trash bins, reducing contractor costs. The six remaining bins were then downsized from 8-yard containers to 6-yard containers, further shrinking costs. Additionally, housekeeping staff began using dumpsters that already contained trash in other U.S. Army Medical Department Activity buildings, and IRAHC quit paying the contractor to “tip” containers unless the container needed it. This was substantial because previously, the contractor charged a fee whether a container was empty or full.

And, the recycling effort by employees is monumental. For example, before this effort, Mize said Binter Pharmacy produced 13-15 large bags of trash a day. Now, they produce a few bags of trash and about 13 bags of recyclables daily. Also, MEDDAC employees got on board, even those who did not initially want to participate. This was critical, because success would be tough without everyone’s buy-in. However, all offices now have recycling cans, and larger recycle containers in break rooms help enforce the recycling message.

“Fort Knox has made significant recycling strides in recent years because of the culture we’ve developed and our commitment to continually educating tenant partners,” said Dan Pearman, Fort Knox Qualified Recycle Program manager. “As a result, every on-post organization is helping do its part, with Ireland Army Health Clinic as a shining example of how a little extra effort and emphasis can make a meaningful difference for our Army and environment.”

A great take-away, Mize added, is that employees see how this type of effort can save them money at home, too; they can recycle the same way and cut trash collecting costs in half—more if they compost.

The goal at IRAHC is “zero” trash output in the future. They may get there—with more efforts like this from individuals who think “out of the box” like Mize.

“People like Randy, who take a new look at old processes and figure out a better way, help us better manage our resources and set a good example for our patients and the community,” said Col. Robert Cornes, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity at Fort Knox and Ireland Army Health Clinic. n