Waste management at army installations 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 army bases which demands close cooperation among different departments, including procurement, technical services, housing, food service, personnel. Reducing office paper waste by implementing a policy to duplex all draft reports.
Army installations are unique due to more than one factor including strict discipline, high degree of motivation, good financial resources and skilled personnel. Usually army 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.
Waste disposal methods for military 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 recycling plan at army 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.
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.
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 indoor 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.
Landfill diversion is achieved when the waste is either not generated in the first place, or when the potential waste is recycled or re-used. As a result, the material never actually becomes a waste. Separation is a critical part of waste diversion. Separation is probably most efficiently conducted at the point of generation. However, post collection separation is also feasible.
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. Sustainable waste management at army bases is a good opportunity for armed forces to promote environmental stewardship, foster sustainable development and generate goodwill among the local population and beyond.
Salman Zafar is an ecopreneur, consultant, advisor, speaker and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection, conservation and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. Salman is the Founder of EcoMENA, a popular voluntary organization based in Qatar. He is also the Founder and CEO of BioEnergy Consult, a reputed consulting firm active in biomass, waste-to-energy and waste management segments.
Salman is a professional environmental writer with more than 350 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass environmental awareness in different parts of the world.
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