Food Waste Transfer System from Ship Galleys to the Ship Solid Waste Processing Equipment
Navy SBIR 2019.2 - Topic N192-123
NAVSUP - Mr. Esteban Diaz -
Opens: May 31, 2019 - Closes: July 1, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Food Waste Transfer System from Ship Galleys to the Ship Solid Waste Processing Equipment


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Ground/Sea Vehicles, Human Systems


ACQUISITION PROGRAM: NAVSUP Weapons Systems Support (WSS) - Not an ACAT program


OBJECTIVE: Develop a prototype reusable waste transport system to assist the sailor to convey food waste and pulpable garbage from the point of waste generation and collection to the point of waste processing (pulper). The system would replace the current practice of transporting food waste and garbage solely in plastic bags.


DESCRIPTION: Navy ships purchase and store plastic trash bags to manually transport food waste and wet garbage from food service areas to the waste processing area. This involves one or more sailors carrying large, heavy, wet trash bags along passageways, up or down ladders, and around berthing and work spaces to reach the waste processing room. These plastic bags are susceptible to tear and leakage, creating unsanitary conditions along the way. Double-bagging creates additional plastic waste to be processed.


Naval Supply Command Weapon Systems Support (NAVSUP WSS) conducted several waste characterization studies aboard deployed aircraft carriers. These studies revealed:

  The galley generates the most waste: 70% of a ship’s waste and 45% of the plastic waste generated aboard.

   About 60% of the waste is food waste.

   Cardboard and paper make up about 23% of a ship’s waste.

   Plastic waste represents about 8% of waste the ship processes daily, roughly 1,200 pounds of a total 15,000 pounds.


On average, about 285 pounds of waste plastic garbage bags are generated per day solely for food waste transport. Over a 6-month deployment, these plastic bags could exceed 25 tons for a single aircraft carrier. As elaborated in the economic analyses under the Navy Needs section, Navy aircraft carriers generate approximately 1200 pounds of waste plastic per day at a cost to process of $2.99 per pound. Switching to a reusable system and reducing the waste plastic by just 25% could result in a cost-avoidance approximating $900 per day. Unit cost of the waste transport/receptacle system is expected to be lower than this daily cost which will result in a high ROI for the proposed system.


Also, high-density, 30-gallon plastic trash bags cost about $0.11 to $0.14 per bag. Assuming a cost of $0.125 per bag, the cost of plastic bags used daily on a Navy aircraft carrier is approximately $360. This does not include costs

associated with at-sea replenishment. Implementing a waste transport system and eliminating 75% of plastic bags could result in cost avoidance of over $90,000 per year per carrier.


Plastic waste is the most difficult type of waste to manage at sea. Navy and International Maritime regulations prohibit disposal of plastics into the seas except when it adversely affects the mission or the safety and health of the crew. Generally, Navy sailors segregate plastic waste where it is generated. Sailors then transport the plastics to a waste processing room where it is shredded to reduce volume, and processed in Compress Melt Units (CMU). The CMU heats and compresses the plastic waste into 20” diameter, 4-inch thick discs which are then stored and offloaded at the next opportunity. This whole process of managing plastic waste at sea is laborious and messy.

Health and sanitary issues can arise when large amounts of food contaminated plastic waste must be moved, processed, stored, and transferred for disposal ashore. Transferring tons of plastic waste to a Combat Logistics Force (CLF) ship can increase the duration of each underway replenishment evolution, adding precious time during which the carrier is unable to launch and recover aircraft.


Replacing trash bags with a sailor-assistive waste transport system of reusable components will greatly reduce the amount of plastic procured, stored, used, wasted, and then processed for retention aboard. A reusable transport system has the potential to reduce cost, reduce waste, and improve quality of life on board.


The system must:

-  Be able to be handled by a single sailor to easily transport the single empty container and the container with waste material

-  Be ergonomically designed

-  Not leak liquids during transport or storage

-  Be rugged and durable for repeated use

-  Be capable of navigating the shipboard environment (e.g., through hatches, up/down ladders, through narrow passageways)

-  Be cost-effective relative to the current cost of plastic bags

-  Be quickly and easily cleaned and sanitized using ship systems

-  Be easily used aboard various surface ship classes and configurations

-  Complement existing shipboard waste processing equipment

-  Be space saving in storage

-  Eliminate the need for plastics bags

-  Show potential to transport other material (not waste) on Navy and commercial ships. Anticipated maximum load weight of the container (with waste or other material) is 50 pounds.


There currently is no equipment or trash receptacle that can navigate the shipboard environment and achieve the above requirements.


PHASE I: Conduct a feasibility study, develop alternatives to the use of plastic trash bags, and select a solution for proof of concept. Develop a Phase II plan.


PHASE II: Develop and engineer prototype systems to include all components. Demonstrate and validate the capabilities of the prototype transport system in an operating environment similar to a ship. Test the prototype on board a ship.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Develop a manufacturing plan and quantify expected Navy demand. NAVSUP WSS will work with Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and other stakeholders to incorporate the system into Navy procurement systems. Modify technology to transport other potential material through the ship.


Private sector application of this technology or system could include commercial shipping, especially aboard ships with reduced manning. Shore-based food service applications such as schools or hospitals could apply this technology to segregate, transport and divert food and organic wastes from landfill to biodegradable compost operations and reduce the number of plastic garbage bags procured and disposed.




1. OPNAVINST 5090.1D Environmental Readiness Program, 10 Jan 2014.


KEYWORDS: Navy; Ships; Solid Waste; Garbage; Containers; Transport; Food



Sandip Mukherjee






Esteban Diaz






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