Disposing of Waste in The Army - The Need to Become Environmentally Friendly

Social IssuesEnvironment

  • Author Clara Reynolds
  • Published March 24, 2023
  • Word count 1,119

With the advancement in technological abilities, incineration of large amounts of trash is becoming more feasible within the Military. Military engineering must embrace this challenge in a linear fashion by providing primary, alternative, contingency, and emergency solutions. Due to the amount of waste that the military produces both within garrison and in the field, the probability that incineration can be taken out of the equation is improbable. Fortunately, movement to minimize current uncontrolled harmful burning practices for the health of our Soldiers and the environment is ongoing.

The problem with growing waste is compounded “[a]s landfill space becomes more scare and the costs of both landfilling and energy rise, the Army has begun to consider heat recovery incineration as a possible alternative for solid waste disposal” (Griggs, 1).¬ Military engineers have been given the task as well as other supporting companies and contracts to create incineration practices that “…will be operated in a manner that prevents or minimizes risks to human health and safety of DoD personnel and , where possible, harm to the environment” (UFC 3-240-11, 3). Achieving this through thermal treatments means the Military must analyze any “…hazardous waste, PCBs, bulk liquid waste, and non-containerized liquids…” as well as “…costs associated with burning…waste…” (UFC 3-240-11, 4-9).

The basic chemistry of incineration is a chemical reaction of combustion by which waste products react with oxygen; energy and heat are released as byproducts during the process. Forward thinking would capture and recover this energy for re-use and is or should be the goal for the advancement of the incineration process. As “[t]he U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories [have] been tasked to research Army solid waste management issues…” there is a drive to evaluate “…the use of heat recovery incineration (HRI) “… in installation solid waste management, including… landfill expansion and construction costs, and projected HRI life-cycle costs” (Griggs, 5). This extensive research is meant to “…help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Major Army Commands (MACOMs) establish polices on waste management and HRI project development” (Griggs, 5).

Across the United States multiple efforts to depose of large amounts of debris. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Louisville District of Mayfield and Graves County are tasked with cleaning and removing waste from natural disasters as a result of natural disasters (Louisville District). In this cleanup process “ [m]ore than 130,000 cubic yards of debris has been collected and removed…” with an additional “70,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris [which were] hauled to an adjacent site at the West Kentucky Landfill where it will be reduced by means of incineration…” (Louisville District).

The Louisville District is only one of many that is tasked with managing the disposal of wastes in a safe and efficient manner. The goal to be minimally disruptive to the environment While addressing and providing solutions for waste management. To reduce and reverse the devastating environmental impacts of decades old practices, it is paramount that new technologies be implemented. New high temperature incinerators operate to assist by burning off more hazardous materials and particulates to promote safer environmental practices. The government is actively sourcing and contracting with companies that can help meet these objectives. The Parsons Corporation, located in Centreville, Virginia, was “…awarded a… four-year, $145 million contract by [the] Department of the Army, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Norfolk District” (Wederman). Upon implementation, “…a new Energetic Waste Incinerator/Contaminated Waste Processor…” to contribute to a healthier future (Wederman).

The investment in this project “…will provide technical design and engineering, permitting, and delivery of the environmental compliant thermal treatment facility which will significantly reduce/eliminate Open Burning Ground related environmental concerns and provide a dependable facility to treat hazardous energetic waste streams…” (Parsons). Parsons has more than 77 years of engineering experience, its ultimate focus is to continually strive for cleaner and greener operations. This is aligned with the Army, as the Army wishes to analyze and upgrade their installations; “[o]f the 124 U.S. Army installations available for study, detailed analysis was limited to the 48 considered to be the highest priority in terms of solid waste management needs” (Griggs, 5).

Overall, prioritization if installations’ needs is the focus. When reflecting upon TRADOC installations “…files on landfill life expectancy were factored into the prioritization because short life expectancy would aggravate any solid waste disposal problems” or build up (Griggs, 7). As for non-TRADOC installations “... landfill life expectancy data… had to be obtained by contacting each installation separately…” (Griggs, 7). There were even “[s]ome installations [that] were dropped from the study [entirely] if their principal fuel was coal because the potential energy savings from [a Health Related Item (HRI)] plant in such settings are greatly reduced compared to where more costly fuels are used” instead (Griggs, 7).

An assumption from using HRI is that it could be an attributing solution to better and cleaner incineration processes. Even with this though “[t]he factor that seems to have the greatest impact on whether to build an HRI plant is whether new landfill construction…”, and therefore incineration, “…could be avoided is an HRI plant is built” (Griggs, 25). There would need to be a proper procedure set up in order to determine “…the potential [helpful] role of HRI on any Army installation…” would be (Griggs, 25). Even though there is not a large amount of quantitative evidence for a numerous amount of Army installations, for what has been collected is “…valuable in helping the Army decide which installations should be examined more closely” (Griggs, 25). Supporting this “[i]t is recommended that the bases which report generating an unusually large amount of waste (more than 5 lb per person daily or 0.9 tons per person annually), should be studied specifically to determine whether they actually produce that quantity of waste and whether recycling and waste generation reduction measures…” are being applied accordingly (Griggs, 26). Military Engineering is actively working towards negating poor environmental impacts of antiquated waste disposal by recognizing the need to evolve and use new systems and technologies.


Defense, Department of. “UFC 3-240-11 Landfills in Support of Military Operations.” WBDG, 24 Mar. 2021, https://www.wbdg.org/ffc/dod/unified-facilities-criteria-ufc/ufc-3-240-11.

Defense, Department of. “UFC 3-240-05a Waste Incineration.” WBDG, 16 Jan. 2004, https://wbdg.org/FFC/DOD/UFC/INACTIVE/ufc_3_240_05a_2004.pdf.

Griggs, Kenneth E, and Gary W Schanche. “The Potential Role of Heat Recovery Incineration (HRI) in Managing Army Installation Solid Waste.” Home - Papers, Aug. 1992, https://www.readcube.com/articles/10.21236%2Fada256861.

“U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Begin Incineration of Vegetative Debris at West Kentucky L.” Louisville District, 18 Jan. 2022, https://www.lrl.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/2902154/us-army-corps-of-engineers-to-begin-incineration-of-vegetative-debris-at-west-k/.

Wederman, Theresa. “Parsons Wins $145 Million Environmental Contract for Army Ammunition Plant.” Parsons Corporation, 4 Oct. 2021, https://www.parsons.com/2021/09/parsons-wins-145-million-environmental-contract-for-army-ammunition-plant/.

CPT Clara Reynolds spent 39 months at TF 1-28 IN, FT. Benning, GA, now known as 1-28IN BN, as a Sapper Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, and Medical Officer and Medical Platoon Leader. Currently, she is a student at Missouri Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri pursuing her PMP Certificate. Work Email: clara.e.reynolds3.mil@army.mil, Civilian Email: claraelund@gmail.com

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