Commissaries continue mission to reduce environmental footprint

  • Published
  • By Defense Commissary Agency

FORT LEE, Va. – As Americans recently observed Earth Day on April 22, the Defense Commissary Agency continues its commitment to reducing the agency's environmental impact.

Since 2005, DECA’s environmental program has recycled or diverted over 1.96 billion pounds of solid waste from landfills, returning over $59 million to the agency’s surcharge. Surcharge funds pay for the construction of replacement stores, renovations, maintenance and repairs of existing stores and the purchasing of new equipment and store-level information technology systems. 

“As an agency, we are focused on reducing the size of our footprint,” said Steven Edlavitch, DECA environmental program manager. “We have many systems and processes that help us do that. From the collecting and selling of different recycled and diverted commodities to working to make sure the store uses as little energy as possible and donating food, we try to divert or recycle as much as we can every single day.”

Commissaries collect different types of commodities that can be recycled or diverted throughout the year. Those commodities are sold, and the revenue earned is returned to the agency’s surcharge funds.

In fiscal year 2022 alone, the agency recycled or diverted over 89 million pounds and returned over $2 million to the surcharge. This effort involved commissaries recycling or diverting the following commodities:

  • Cardboard - 71,100,859 pounds
  • Food donations - 4,880,118 pounds
  • Plastic - 3,395,947 pounds
  • Wood pallets - 3,372,212 pounds
  • Compost - 2,861,808 pounds
  • Fat and bones - 1,547,646 pounds
  • Wood - 680,698 pounds
  • Local farm - 564,414 pounds
  • Consolidated recyclables - 306,606 pounds
  • Metal - 250,830 pounds
  • Other recyclables - 123,350 pounds
  • Rotisserie chicken oil - 96,830 pounds
  • Office paper - 66,109 pounds
  • Fryer oil - 13,313 pounds
  • Food recovery (organics) - 5,998 pounds
  • Aluminum cans - 1,944 pounds
  • Toner cartridges - 231 pounds

An essential part of the agency's environmental program includes using a liquidation contract to help sell off outdated or surplus equipment. Through this contract, DECA has sold an estimated 1.8 million pounds since 2014 and returned $4.4 million in revenue to the surcharge fund.

The program not only puts money back into the agency but also helps support the communities around installations through the food bank program. The food bank program donates edible but unsellable food to local food banks nationwide. In 2022, the agency donated over 4.8 million pounds of edible but unsellable food. Since 2012, DECA has donated over 36 million pounds of food with 177 commissaries supporting 204 Department of Defense-approved food banks. 

“DECA’s food donation program is critical to help families struggling with hunger and food insecurity,” said Edlavitch. “We’ve seen the use of food banks rise over the last couple of years. At first food banks struggled to keep up with demand during the pandemic but now the demand is coming from families challenged with higher food prices.”

The agency also participates in the yearly Feds Feed Families food drive, a voluntary federal-wide and nationwide effort for employees and commissary patrons to collect and donate food for those in need. The United States Department of Agriculture oversees the program and DECA manages DOD’s participation.

The 2022 campaign collected just over 7.8 million pounds of groceries donated across all federal departments and agencies. DOD contributed 4.7 million pounds, or 60%, marking an increase of more than 27% from 2021. DeCA’s share of the 4.7 million was 3.2 million pounds, or 68%, an increase of more than 33% from 2021’s total. Commissary customers also purchased an estimated 81,423 donation bags this year, totaling more than $854,000 in groceries. DeCA’s total estimated dollar donation value for the 2022 is approximately $3.2 million.

In 2022, DECA deployed its new Waste Management Report System. According to Edlavitch, commissaries now have the resources to track their recycling data, including food donations and food bank information, and email this data to the military installations.

In addition, the enhanced commissary buildings also help reduce the overall environmental footprint of the agency:

  • Many facilities have been renovated to minimize energy and water consumption.
  • Glass doors have been installed on refrigeration units to conserve energy.
  • Use of natural light and efficient LED lighting when possible.
  • Low- to no-maintenance flooring in some stores, reducing the chemicals and equipment needed to strip and polish floors.
  • Motion sensors reduce lighting when there are no personnel working in a particular area.
  • Computer-controlled HVAC system with a modulated mechanical system to conserve energy.

Commissaries also make it easy for patrons to live more sustainably by offering environmentally friendly products. For example, patrons can find organic produce, energy-saving compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs, high-efficiency laundry products, environmentally friendly cleaning products, and reduced packaging products like paper towels and bathroom tissue without the cardboard tubes on the commissary's shelves. Also available for purchase are reusable shopping bags to help reduce the number of plastic bags sent to landfills. 

Patrons can also find Full Circle Market, a commissary store brand, on shelves. Full Circle Market provides sustainable, simple and better choices through all-natural ingredients while not costing a fortune or sacrificing taste. According to the brand’s website, their “organic foods are farmed and produced without chemical treatments and processing. Full Circle Market organic foods have been produced using cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support cycling on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”

“This year’s Earth Day theme is ‘Invest in Our Planet,’” said Edlavitch. “We invite all patrons to join commissaries in investing in our planet and reducing our impact on the environment, helping to protect it for future generations.” 


Sidewalk sales to offer extra savings on everyday items at stateside stores during Military Appreciation Month in May

Commissary customers stateside can stock up on their favorite items while enjoying deeper savings during the Defense Commissary Agency’s “Hometown Heroes” Sidewalk Sale event May 1-29.

“The title of our sidewalk sale event, ‘Hometown Heroes,’ is appropriate during Military Appreciation Month in May as we celebrate our service members and their families by offering even greater savings on their favorite products,” said Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael Saucedo, senior enlisted advisor to the DECA director.

Weather permitting, most commissaries will have one two-to-three-day outdoor weekend sidewalk sale event in May, featuring extra savings on a variety of everyday items. Event dates are subject to change, so patrons are encouraged to check the sidewalk sale webpage for their store’s sale dates and check their commissary webpage or talk to their store manager for more details or updates.

Customers have a variety of options to choose from. Sale items may include products such as cold cereals, snacks (nuts, chips, candy), coffee products, flavored water and juices, energy drinks, beverages, pet food, international foods, baking goods, canned goods, non-food items (paper towels, toilet paper, wipes, cleaning products), baby products and health and beauty products.

Overseas customers should contact their local stores to see what specific promotions are occurring in their community. 

“We can never thank our military enough for their dedicated service,” Saucedo added. “However, at DECA we can ensure we do our best to deliver the savings they deserve and strive to be our customers’ grocery provider of choice.”


From health and wellness expos to Hometown Heroes sidewalk events, DeCA promotes extra savings with commissary sales flyers for April 24 – May 7

Wherever they are, service members and their families can benefit from extra savings with the Defense Commissary Agency sales flyer for April 24 - May 7.

This edition ends the Month of the Military Child, which highlighted military children with a drawing contest where each store recognizes three winners in each age group. To learn more or to download the activity sheet, click here.

Throughout May, stateside commissaries will have a Hometown Heroes Sidewalk Sale offering great deals on their favorites in bulk. Event dates are subject to change, so patrons are encouraged to check the sidewalk sale webpage for their store’s sale dates and check their commissary webpage or talk to their store manager for more details or updates.

Customers can also further their commissary savings through the new and improved Your Everyday Savings program. YES! offers extra savings and value on products customers buy most. Look for the orange YES! label on store shelves.

To reach a higher level of savings beyond everyday low commissary prices, look for the Savvy Shopper best deals featured in the latest sales flyer.

DECA’s “thinking outside the box” recipe for the period is Asian lettuce wraps. TOTB recipes are dietitian-approved, offering quick and economical solutions for home-cooked meals. Customers can save even more on the items listed in these recipes.

More opportunities to save are available through the Pathway to Savings Instant Savings and buy one, get one free deals and Commissary Rewards Card digital coupons. Customers can save over $65 through these deals. Many more digital coupons are available at Pathway to Savings “BOGO free” is not available at overseas stores; however, overseas customers can still enjoy instant savings by visiting their stores for specific selection and pricing.

DECA has made shopping even easier with its Commissary CLICK2GO mobile app. Customers can access DECA’s Commissary CLICK2GO online payment, curbside pickup, digital coupons, the sales flyer, dietitian-approved recipes and much more. The mobile app is free for download through the Google Play and IOS app stores.

Other savings opportunities include:

  • “The World We Travel” drawing contest: In celebration of April as the Month of the Military Child, DECA is hosting a drawing contest for military children grade Pre-K through 12 for the chance to win a prize from Kinder chocolate and a certificate from their local commissary. Click Month of the Military Child | Commissaries for more details.
  • Del Monte supports CreatiVets: Through May 15, every Del Monte purchase helps support and empower wounded veterans to heal through the arts and music.
  • Commissary health and wellness expo and sweepstakes: Select CONUS commissaries will host a Health and Wellness Expo April 28-29, where suppliers will be on site to speak about the benefits of their products, hand out coupons, samples and more. In connection with this event, running through April 30, suppliers will host a sweepstakes, where authorized patrons worldwide have a chance to win a $100 commissary gift card. To learn more, go to
  • “Freedom’s Choice Price Slash.” Throughout April, CONUS commissaries are slashing the price of Freedom’s Choice Chicken Wing Sections Party Pack, 5-pound bag, regular $13.34, now $6.99.
  • Monster Energy: Commissary customers at participating stores can enter for a chance to win a Kawasaki motorcycle by scanning a QR code on in-store posters and displays. Contest ends Nov. 30.
  • Commissary store brands: DECA’s private label inventory of commissary store brands include an assortment of items spanning the entire store to include Freedom’s Choice food, HomeBase non-food, TopCare health and beauty, Full Circle Market natural and organic food, Wide Awake ready-to-drink coffee products, Tippy Toes baby products, Flock’s Finest wild bird food and Pure Harmony pet food.
  • Dietitian-approved fueling stations. The commissaries’ grab-n-go dietitian-approved fueling stations are a great alternative to the drive-thru or can be used as a quick way to stock office and barrack fridges with quick, on-the-go, snacks and meals. These stations are full of dietitian-approved snacks and meals that are nutritious and high-performance foods. They’re conveniently located near the registers in select stores. View the Deli Fueling Station page for a list of dietitian-approved salads, sandwiches and wraps.
  • “Box Tops for Education.” General Mills is offering customers an opportunity to save money while supporting their local schools through the “Box Tops for Education” promotion. See store displays and high-value coupons for participating General Mills brands. This campaign is ongoing throughout the year.
  • “Military Pet Club.” The club offers high-value coupons only valid at the commissary, welcome gifts, sweepstakes opportunities, pet tips and articles. During April, Pet Club members have an opportunity to win a $250 commissary gift card. To enter go to
  • “Purina Military Cat and Pro Plan Pet Club.” Military Pet Club members receive high value coupons (only valid at the commissary), sweepstake opportunities, pet tips and articles. Throughout April, Military Pet Club members can enter to win a Roomba vacuum or $250 commissary gift card. To participate go to