Hazardous Waste:

DOD Efforts to Reduce Waste

NSIAD-89-35: Published: Feb 7, 1989. Publicly Released: Mar 8, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) and the services' efforts to minimize their generation of hazardous waste by: (1) changing production, repair, and maintenance processes; (2) substituting less hazardous materials; and (3) changing technical documents to allow substitution.

GAO found that: (1) through the services, DOD made progress in meeting the required elements of its hazardous waste minimization program by establishing goals, setting time frames, developing plans to accomplish the goals, and making organizational changes; (2) although the services began to implement waste minimization programs, the degree of implementation varied; (3) the Air Force delegated review of technical documents for all systems and equipment to identify opportunities for material substitution, but only one air logistics center had an approved review plan; (4) neither the Army nor the Navy had technical document review requirements; (5) the services had not formally integrated required hazardous waste minimization considerations into their acquisition programs; and (6) the services plan to reduce their hazardous waste generation levels by 50 percent by 1992, but will have difficulty monitoring their progress due to unreliable data collection and reporting.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As the result of a study by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), standard hazardous waste data elements were developed to be included in the Defense Environment Management System. OSD also is working to develop a minimization progress index. Calendar year 1990 data was due to OSD by June 1991. Calendar year 1991 data will be due with August 1991 data call information.

    Recommendation: To provide the services with accurate, consistent, and comparable hazardous waste generation data for monitoring minimization efforts and progress toward meeting waste reduction goals, the Secretary of Defense should establish a standard methodology for collecting and reporting hazardous waste generation data within DOD, which should include data on significant changes in production.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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