Waste Management Perspectives for Military

Waste management has a profound impact on all sections of the society, and military is no exception. With increasing militarization, more wars and frequent armed conflicts, protection of the environment has assumed greater significance for military in armed conflicts as well as peacetime operations. Tremendous amount of waste is generated by military bases and deployed forces in the form of food waste, papers, plastics, metals, tires, batteries, chemicals, e-waste, packaging etc.

War on Waste

Sustainable management of waste is a good opportunity for armed forces to promote environmental stewardship, foster sustainable development and generate goodwill among the local population and beyond. Infact, top military bases in the Western world, like Fort Hood and Fort Meade, have an effective strategy to counter the huge amount of solid waste, hazardous waste and other wastes generated at these facilities.

Waste management at military bases demands an integrated framework based on the conventional waste management hierarchy of 4Rs – reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery (of energy). Waste reduction (or waste minimization) is the top-most solution to reduce waste generation at military bases which demands close cooperation among different departments, including procurement, technical services, housing, food service, personnel. Typical waste reduction strategies for armed forces includes

  • making training manuals and personnel information available electronically
  • reducing all forms of packaging waste
  • purchasing products, such as food items, in bulk
  • purchasing repairable, long-lasting and reusable items

Due to large fraction of recyclables in the waste stream, recycling is an attractive proposition for the armed forces. However, environmental awareness, waste collection infrastructure, and modern equipment are essential for the success of any waste management strategy in a military installation.

Food waste and yard waste (or green waste) can be subjected to anaerobic digestion or composting to increase landfill diversion rates and obtain energy-rich biogas (for cooking/heating) and nutrient-rich fertilizer (for landscaping and gardening). For deployed forces, small-scale waste-to-energy systems, based on thermal technologies, can be an effective solution for disposal of combustible wastes, and for harnessing energy potential of wastes. In case of electronic wastes, it can be sent to a Certified Electronics Recycling and Disposal firm.

Key Aspect

Management options for military installations is dependent on size of the population, location, local regulations, budgetary constraints and many other factors. It is imperative on base commanders to evaluate all possible options and develop a cost-effective and efficient waste management plan. The key factors in the success of waste management plan in military bases are development of new technologies/practices, infrastructure building, participation of all departments, basic environmental education for personnel and development of a quality recycling program.

Military installations are unique due to more than one factor including strict discipline, high degree of motivation, good financial resources and skilled personnel. Usually military installations are one of the largest employers in and around the region where they are based and have a very good influence of the surrounding community, which is bound to have a positive impact on overall waste management strategies in the concerned region.

10 Small Ways to Make a Big Difference in Waste Reduction

At this point, pretty much everyone is aware that plastic drinking straws are bad for the environment, namely the animals that inhabit our oceans, rivers, and lakes. But that’s just one small aspect of the global waste problem we’re currently facing.

Becoming aware of the impact of straws began a major change in the way we drink beverages. Similarly, understanding how other wasteful behaviors negatively affect our world should help us all reduce our waste and become better consumers.

While it will take major changes amongst the masses to turn our trajectory around, it all begins when individuals start adjusting their personal habits.

Start making an impact on our Earth by reducing your waste generation in these 10 small ways:

1. Reduce Consumption

The first step to reduce waste? Reduce consumption. Start by logging where you are spending your money. Notice which areas cost the most and begin reducing in that area. Once you improve there, find the next budget category to tackle. By simply buying less, we can make a big difference.

2. Avoid Plastic Wrap

Instead of relying on plastic wrap to preserve food or make it portable, consider other eco-friendly alternatives, like Super Bee beeswax wraps. These can be washed and reused over and over again. They work for anything including sandwiches, partially used produce, and a bowl of leftovers.

3. Shop with Reusable Bags

You should strive to always bring your own shopping bags rather than getting a single-use one from the store. This will cut down on the clutter in your house and save a few bags in the process. If you forgot your bags, opt for paper instead of plastic and find a way to re-use it afterward.

4. Support Local

Locally made products require much less packaging, shipping, and manufacturing overhead. Buying these kinds of products supports lower-waste businesses and contributes positively to the environment. Farmers markets are great for purchasing delicious produce without any packaging.

5. Whatever You Do, Don’t Litter

Of course, you should never litter. Throwing trash on the ground with the assumption that someone else will pick it up is incredibly flawed. You should always pick up after yourself. In addition, you can make a difference by simply picking up after those who haven’t.

6. Reuse Food Containers

If your takeout is transported in non-environmentally friendly packaging, find a way to reuse it. Even if you only find one more use for it, you will have just doubled its life span and done a small part in reducing waste.

7. Start Your Own Garden

One way to really reduce the amount of wasteful packaging you consume is to start growing your own food. This will be a fun hobby, provide nutritious food, and cut your produce-related waste down to zero.

8. Stretch Your Groceries

Challenge yourself to stretch your groceries an extra day or two. This practice can help save you a nice bit of money each year and will ensure you’re using what you already have rather than consuming more.

9. Repurpose Furniture

Instead of buying a new couch, consider just reupholstering the fabric. Finding ways to repurpose old furniture cuts down on heavy item shipping costs and reduces the large amounts of waste that commonly come along with these types of products.

10. Recycle

If you’re not already, get on the recycling bandwagon. By separating your recyclable waste from your general trash, you can give many of your consumer products a second life!

Conclusion

Even if you are unable to accomplish all of the things on this list, working towards a few sustainable development goals can make an impact. By becoming more mindful of how we consume and waste products, we can slowly improve Earth’s environmental state.