Waste reduction, force protection and conservation of resources are just a few of many reasons for composting. The added benefit is that it helps the Army reach it’s Net Zero Goals for providing a nutrient-rich material that can be used to fertilize plants and avoid having to use fertilizers. These compost materials are collected from typical trash and waste from dining facilities and public works.
Kate DeWolf, Sain Engineering Associates, Inc. (SEA) eREM stationed at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait; along with Luis Velazquez, senior environmental, safety and health engineer of Vectrus and U.S. Army Central environmental contractors are currently working on a Base Composting Initiative to enhance environmental sustainability goals for supporting the U.S. Army’s Net Zero waste reduction plan.
Despite composting in a rather hot and arid environment, leaders at Camp Arifjan are proving that a compositing program can be successful. They recently demonstrated testing locally procured biodegradable materials with food waste from base dining in a live composting demonstration to area key leaders in celebration of October’s Energy Awareness month.
The demonstration allowed the team of contractors to showcase new biodegradable materials and identify processes best suited for building resiliency, reducing waste sent to landfills, and establishing an enduring legacy of environmental sustainability efforts for U.S. Army installations in Kuwait. “Research shows it can take items in plastic bags and utensils up to 80 years to fully decompose,” said Velazquez. “With our process, it can take up to 3 months.”
During the demonstration, SEA eREM, Kate DeWolf emptied biodegradable bags filled with PLA dining utensils, vegetable discards, eggshells, coffee grounds and base shrubbery into a compost bin. Meanwhile, Velazquez explained; “We are testing to see how long it takes PLA (polylactic acid derived from corn starch) materials to decompose in this unique environment. Depending on how it goes, we will see how we need to adjust.”
This gave leaders insight into how their environmental initiatives help achieve base resiliency and have an expansive, positive impact.
Another line of effort in the team’s waste reduction initiative is to support the local economy by procuring compost materials, as well as maintain U.S. Army host country relationships in a positive manner through recycling and waste reduction methods.
“All of these items that are composting are from a local Kuwait vendor,” said Dewolf. “The garbage bags are actually manufactured in Kuwait so we are supporting our local goals with this effort. It also demonstrates our due diligence to our host countries by showing we want to protect their natural resources for future generations to come.”
SEA’s compositing operations in Kuwait are currently limited to pre-plated food and uncooked vegetables; however, the team hopes to expand its capabilities. “We believe the simple things we are doing now, are going to greatly impact the environment 10-20 years from now.”
Since 2001, Sain Engineering Associates, Inc. has been the leading small business for providing Resource Efficiency Management (REM) services to federal agencies worldwide. These full-time, on-site energy professionals help to increase the effectiveness of government energy programs by identifying energy conservation measures to reduce energy and water usage. SEA’s conservation measures are accomplished through the implementation of cost-effective programs and practices derived from a review of available data and processes.