VICENZA/LIVORNO, Italy -- Digging through trash may not be for everyone, but it is how one contractor spent some time this past spring.

Directorate of Public Works hired contractor AMEC Foster Wheeler to assess the efficiency of waste sorting at United States Army Garrison Italy, and both Vicenza and Darby military communities were included in the assessment.

"We want to find ways to prevent as much of our waste from reaching landfills as possible. This work will help us determine how to best spend our limited resources to reach that goal," said Rodger Allison, DPW pollution prevention manager.

Army's 2018 goal
The garrison wants to divert waste from landfills by reducing, reusing and recycling. The current rate of waste diversion is 56 percent, which means 44 percent of this community's waste reaches the landfill -- close to the Army's goal, which is to reach a 60 percent diversion rate by the end of 2018.

Non-hazardous waste leaving USAG Italy installations are separated into plastic, cans, glass, paper (including cardboard), organics and dry waste. Larger wastes collected include wood, metal, yard waste, electric/electronic and bulky wastes such as furniture.

Contractor employees pulled waste from waste bins at the silver waste bin stations and eco islands throughout the garrison.

After pulling waste from the bins, it was separated, weighed and volume estimated for the different types. Afterward, the waste was placed in proper receptacles for disposal.

The assessment shows there is more dry waste than any other type of waste leaving the garrison, although 65 percent of that waste sent to the landfill could easily be recycled, according to the assessment. Organics, plastics and paper are respectively the largest quantities of recyclables by weight followed by cans and glass.

Areas that generate waste are classified as residential, commercial and industrial.

Two communities
In the Vicenza Military Community, commercial activities dispose the most organic waste into the dry waste stream by a wide margin as compared to plastics and paper. Industry disposes of more plastics and paper into the dry waste stream. Residential areas equally include all three of these items in the dry waste stream.

The Darby Military Community shows slightly different results from the survey. Industrial and commercial areas have high levels of organics with plastics and paper close behind, while residential areas show higher levels of recyclable paper disposed with dry waste.

The DPW will evaluate ways to increase the amount of recycled wastes while reducing the dry waste stream. A possible solution could be as simple as improving placement of waste bins or as complex as coordinating some operational changes with units and tenants.

The garrison generates more than five tons of waste each year at a cost of over $2.75 million dollars. The cost of removing recyclables here is a small fraction of the cost to remove mixed dry waste. Therefore, not only is improved waste sorting better for the environment, it is also better for the taxpaying community.

For information on how best to sort waste, call the DPW Operations and Maintenance Division at DSN 637-8210.