Characterizing emissions from open burning of military food waste and ration packaging compositions

  • Thomas Dominguez
  • Johanna Aurell
  • Brian Gullett
  • Robert Eninger
  • Dirk Yamamoto


Emissions from open burning of military food waste and ration packaging compositions were characterized in response to health concerns from open burning disposal of waste, such as at military forward operating bases. Emissions from current and prototype Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs), and material options for their associated fiberboard packaging were quantified to assess contributions of the individual components. MREs account for 67–100% of the particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and -furans (PCDDs/PCDFs) emissions when burned in unison with the current fiberboard container and liner. The majority of the particles emitted from these burns are of median diameter 2.5 µm (PM2.5). Metal emission factors were similar regardless of waste composition. Measurements of VOCs and PAHs indicate that targeted replacement of MRE components may be more effective in reducing emissions than variation of fiberboard-packaging types. Despite MRE composition variation, equivalent emission factors for PM, PAH, VOC, and PCDD/PCDF were seen. Similarly, for fiberboard packaging, composition variations exhibited essentially equivalent PM, PAH, VOC, and PCDD/PCDF emission factors amongst themselves. This study demonstrated a composition-specific analysis of waste burn emissions, assessing the impact of waste component substitution using military rations.


Emissions Food waste composition Military packaging Open burning 



The views expressed within this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the United States Government. This work was funded by the Department of Defense’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP, Project WP-201218). Special thanks to Dr. Jo Ann Ratto at the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) for providing test materials, technical expertise, and the opportunity to characterize military waste emissions; Lt Col David Kempisty for his input and feedback on the polymers; Paul Freeman (undergraduate student volunteer at US EPA) for assisting with MRE waste characterization and emission sampling; and Dennis Tabor (US EPA) for PAH and PCDD/PCDF analyses. Thanks to Dr. Dahman Touati and Steve Terll (ARCADIS-US, Inc.) for OBTF assistance.

Supplementary material

10163_2017_652_MOESM1_ESM.docx (11.1 mb)
Comprehensive data tables and figures can be found within Online Resource 1 (DOCX 11355 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Dominguez
    • 1
  • Johanna Aurell
    • 2
  • Brian Gullett
    • 3
  • Robert Eninger
    • 1
  • Dirk Yamamoto
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Systems Engineering and ManagementU.S. Air Force Institute of TechnologyOhioUSA
  2. 2.Energy Technology and Materials DivisionUniversity of Dayton Research InstituteDaytonUSA
  3. 3.National Risk Management Research LaboratoryU.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and DevelopmentResearch Triangle ParkUSA
  4. 4.STS Systems Integration LLCDaytonUSA

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