Revision Date: 05/00
Process Code: Navy/Marines: N/A; Air Force: N/A; Army: N/A
Usage: Navy: Medium; Marines: Medium;Army: Medium; Air Force: Medium
Compliance Impact: Low
Alternative for: Landfilling
Applicable EPCRA Targeted Constituents: N/A

Overview: It is possible to re-use food waste by diverting it to a hog or livestock farmer. An estimated 75% of food waste is also usable for composting operations. A significant reduction in landfilled waste could be achieved by initiating or expanding programs to re-use or compost food waste. Food waste consists of vegetable trimmings, raw and cooked food, meat and dairy products, spoiled food, leftovers, plate scrapings, and some animal feeds. It is a major contributor to the weight of disposed waste due to its high water content. Military food services produce large quantities of food waste which makes the waste easy to capture and divert.

Food waste and paper waste from food service operations can be processed through waste pulpers. The waste pulpers grind up organic matter with water (the process is similar to a household garbage disposal) and then extract most of the moisture to produce a dry, organic pulp. This material is less expensive to transport than raw food waste and is often in a more usable form for animal food or composting. The dry pulp is easily mixed with traditional feedstuffs such as urea and corn.

Diverting food waste to a hog or livestock farmer is a source reduction strategy. Although animal food processors can take meats and oils, they may not accept material containing paper. Specific requirements of animal food processors should be consulted before initiating a program. Licensed animal food processors will contract to pick up food waste. They charge a fee to the generator that is approximately half the cost of landfilling the waste. If unlicensed farmers accept the food waste, the military installation may be liable for potential damages. The state’s Department of Agriculture should be consulted about legal requirements, permitting, or the location of animal farmers who can accept food waste prior to implementing a program.

Food waste that is diverted to a composting operation can contain significant amounts of wastepaper. This makes it easier to separate from regular trash and results in higher diversion. Food containing meat and dairy products is not suitable for composting because it attracts scavengers and creates odor problems. Most yard waste composting operations can be designed or adapted to incorporate food waste. The addition of food waste often helps yard waste decay faster. Housing residents can practice backyard composting and large scale composting systems can be set up for food service wastes. Although any composting method can be used for food waste, in-vessel composting is particularly appropriate since it eliminates problems with odor and scavengers.

Compliance Benefit: Food waste composting or reuse will help facilities meet the requirements under Executive Order 13101 requiring executive agencies (e.g., DOD) to incorporate waste prevention and recycling in their daily operations.

States and/or localities may have additional regulations on composting which should be followed. The equipment used for composting may increase fuels on site which may increase a facility’s need to comply with SARA (40 CFR 355 and EO 12856) reporting requirements and SPCC (40 CFR 112) issues.

The compliance benefits listed here are only meant to be used as a general guideline and are not meant to be strictly interpreted. Actual compliance benefits will vary depending on the factors involved, e.g. the amount of workload involved.

Materials Compatibility:

Safety and Health: Food waste collection facilities have the potential for rodent/pest infestation, foul odor, and unsightly conditions. The addition of food to composting operations increases the potential for rodent/pest and odor problems. Consult your local industrial health specialist and your local health and safety personnel prior to implementation.

  • Reusing or composting food waste can result in a potential 6.7% reduction by weight of disposed waste (EPA, 1994).
  • Composted food waste can be used as a soil amendment on base, possibly reducing the need for purchased supplies.
  • Cost savings are achieved from reduced landfill disposal fees.

  • Food waste introduces problems of odor and scavengers in outdoor composting operations.
  • Source separation of food requires extra work and special containers in the kitchen.
  • Food waste contaminated with trash is not suitable for use as an animal food.
  • Storing food waste between pickups can be messy, odorous, and requires frequent cleaning of containers
  • Food waste composting may require permits.

Economic Analysis: Capital costs for incorporating food waste into an existing composting operation would include the purchase of separate collection containers for the compostable material. The economic analysis is limited to this option since it has a lower capital cost than diversion as livestock feed.

Capital costs for using food waste to produce animal feed may include the cost of one or more waste pulpers as well as bulk collection containers for the processed material. Capital costs for a waste pulper range from $27,000 to $34,000. Operating costs would include transporting the material to the livestock farmer.


  • Purchase of 200 60-gallon bins at $50 each.
  • Labor approximately 1 day per week at $30/hr
  • Use existing garbage trucks for food waste collection.
  • 20 tons per month diverted.
  • Produces 15 tons per month finished compost.
  • Landfill fees: $30/ton
  • Hauling to landfill costs: $5/ton
  • Hauling costs to on-base compost facility: $2/ton
  • Avoided topsoil purchases: $50/ton

Annual Operating Cost Comparison for Diversion and Disposal of Food Wastes

Operational Costs:    
Labor: $12,500 $0
Waste Disposal: $0 $7,200
Hauling: $500 $1,200
Total Operational Costs: $13,000 $8,400
Total Recovered Income: $9,000 $0
Net Annual Cost/Benefit: -$4,000 -$8,400

Economic Analysis Summary

    Annual Savings for Diversion: $4,400
    Capital Cost for Diversion Equipment/Process: $10,000
    Payback Period for Investment in Equipment/Process: < 3 years

Click Here to view an Active Spreadsheet for this Economic Analysis and Enter Your Own Values.

Approving Authority: Approval is controlled locally and should be implemented only after engineering approval has been granted. Major claimant approval is not required

Product NSN Unit Size Cost MSDS*
None Identified $  

*There are multiple MSDSs for most NSNs.
The MSDS (if shown above) is only meant to serve as an example.

Points of Contact: Navy:
Mr. John Comstock
Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center
1100 23rd Avenue
Port Hueneme, CA 93043-4370
Phone: (805) 982-5315

Mr. Wallace Eakes
Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center
1100 23rd Ave.
ESC 426
Port Hueneme, CA 93043-4370
Phone: (805) 982-4882
DSN: 551-4882
FAX: (805) 982-4832

Vendors: Hobart Corporation
701 Ridge Avenue
Troy,  OH   45374-0001
Phone: (937) 332-2000 
FAX: (937) 332-2399

  Jacobson Companies
2765 Niagra Lane
Minneapolis,  MN   55447
Phone: (800) 328-6887 
FAX: (612) 557-5557

  Somat Corporation
855 Fox Chase
Coatesville,  PA   19320
Phone: (610) 384-7000 
FAX: (610) 380-8500

  Vincent Corporation
2810 5th. Avenue
Tampa,  FL   33605
Phone: (813) 248-2650 
FAX: (813) 247-7557

Sources: Mr. John Comstock, Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center, May 1999
Jacobson, Mike Hansen, May 1996