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NEWS | Oct. 25, 2023

Army Reserve Participates in Solid Waste Pilot Programs

By Ashley Bradford Army Reserve Installation Management Directorate

Two Army Reserve-funded installations have been selected to participate in piloting innovative solid waste technologies to more efficiently and effectively divert waste from landfills throughout the Army. The pilots are spearheaded by the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9 Installations and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Engineer Research and Development Center (specifically the Construction Engineer Research Lab). Devens Reserve Forces Training Area (RFTA), Massachusetts will implement composting and dumpster sensors, while Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico will implement composting and a Waste-to-Energy (WTE) system.

“It’s our job to identify and support new and creative opportunities to enhance the Army Reserve Solid Waste Program,” said Laura Pirtle, Chief of the Installation Services and Programs Branch, Army Reserve Installation Management Directorate. “The Army Reserve is known as tester and early adopter of new technologies. Couple that with our pursuit for resiliency and efficiency, our installations serve as the perfect locations to pilot and demo solutions with other Army organizations.”

Tyrone Cook, the Army Reserve Solid Waste Program Coordinator, shared the benefits of composting, dumpster sensors, and WTE systems. “Composting is a great way of taking organic waste such as discarded food scraps, letting it decompose, and receiving an end product that can be reused to enrich soil. Dumpster sensors monitor fill levels and reduce the number of pickups from local haulers by 30-55%, which reduces our contract costs by only having the waste picked up when the dumpster is full. And in lieu of more traditional municipal solid waste disposal like landfilling, open burn pits or incineration, a containerized, deployable WTE system will enable the Army to strive toward net zero waste goals.  Fort Buchanan will serve as a testing platform for the WTE pilot project to test different waste profiles including standard mix, paper and sludge, plastic, and food.”  

“While many are familiar with our procurement of electric vehicles as part of the Army Climate Strategy, we are doing a lot more than that. The largest waste stream across the Army Reserve is food, and a recent study found that food waste accounts for 46% of military installations' refuse,” explained Lt. Col. Joshua Bloom, Devens RFTA Garrison Commander. “Food waste is a major greenhouse gas generator because it produces methane while it breaks down in landfills. While we are simultaneously working on source reduction initiatives, the primary goal of this program is for the Devens RFTA Directorate of Public Works to implement and evaluate an efficient composting process so that we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by repurposing food waste. This program is a significant step towards increasing sustainability and attaining net-zero installations across the Army and Army Reserve because the data collected at our installation will holistically inform future composting programs.”

Fort Buchanan Garrison Commander, Col. Charles Moulton, is also excited at the opportunities the solid waste pilots bring to the island of Puerto Rico. “There are definite challenges when it comes to diverting waste and recycling when your surrounded by water and have experienced the devastating impacts of hurricanes,” shared Moulton. “Implementing composting and WTE really opens the door for us to more efficiently and affordably divert waste. Our options are limited due to our geographic location, so the prospect of utilizing waste to potentially tie into the grid, any maybe even the installation’s future electric microgrid, supports our resilience and readiness.”

Implementation of the pilots are scheduled for fiscal year 2024 with operations funded through fiscal year 2028. For more information on the Army Reserve’s Solid Waste program, please visit