U.S. Military produces 1.8 times more waste than Okinawans

According to Okinawa Prefecture officials, the U.S. military produced a total of 26,332 tons of general waste in 2015, 11.4 percent more tan the previous year and the first time since 2010 to exceed 26,000 tons.

The U.S. military does not announce its annual amount of waste, so Okinawa Prefecture calculated it based on information from waste disposal businesses. Of the total, 6,500 tons was recycled, and 19,832 tons went to incinerators or landfills.

The U.S. military stopped making public the number of military personnel and their family members at the end of June 2011, and the quantity of waste per person is therefore only an estimate. But according to available statistics from 2015, there were about 47,300 military and civilian personnel and their families in Okinawa. Calculated using the numbers above, the daily waste per person related to the U.S. military was 1.525kg that is 1.8 times more than the 844g produced by an average Okinawa resident in 2014.

Local municipal ordnances require people to separate waste according to type, but according to the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, Japanese laws are not applicable on the U.S. military installations. The U.S. Department of Defense sets its own obligatory environmental management program to all U.S. military facilities overseas, however, it is recognized that the program is not working very well as shown by fluctuation in numbers from various installations.

Disposal facility operators that handle waste from the U.S. military in Okinawa say that their contracts don’t allow them to make public the details of their waste disposal, however, they revealed that nearly all of the waste from the U.S. military is not separated, and they do it on their premises instead.