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18 Based on the results of the data collection survey and case example interviews, airports were practicing a range of waste management strategies. These strategies include program manage- ment elements and physical strategies that align with the EPAâs waste management and food recovery hierarchies. Stakeholders were also participating in waste management in a variety of ways. Other strategies included using resources for new ideas as well as communication, education, and training strategies. Specific effective practices noted in the airport survey responses and case example inter- views are highlighted in the following sections. Toolkits containing example documents and other resources for specific effective strategies, as noted where applicable, are included in the appendices. While 36 airports were surveyed, numbers in the discussions may not add up to 36 because of multiple responses or nonresponses. Program Management Elements Policies Twenty-four survey respondents indicated that their organization had an overall environ- mental policy or specific waste management policy. In this context, a policy is an organizationâs statement of principles that guides decision making and the establishment of objectives and procedures. Airports owned and operated by a city or port authority are typically expected to support the larger organizationâs commitments. Airports with a completed sustainability man- agement plan or sustainable master plan have developed mission statements with those efforts. An overarching environmental policy is a typical element of an environmental master plan, which some airports maintain. The policies provided in the survey responses were aspirational and include a range of pledges, including commitments to all three areas of sustainability. Table 2 groups phrases and concepts found in several of the airportsâ policies by topic. Goals, Objectives, and Targets Airport goals related to waste management ranged from general objectives to specific tasks. These are examples of general goals listed in the survey responses: â¢ Meet and exceed city/state targets â¢ Increase reduction, diversion, or recycling â¢ Implement waste reduction practices â¢ Reuse materials â¢ Recycle â¢ Improve procurement policies â¢ Improve signage C H A P T E R 4 Waste Management Practices
Waste Management Practices 19 â¢ Improve education â¢ Procure recycling stations â¢ Collocate bins â¢ Increase stakeholder participation â¢ Achieve zero waste Twenty-four airports shared their waste diversion goals, and 12 airports shared their recycling goals. For the airports included in this study, the minimum numerical waste diversion goal was 10%, and the maximum was 100%, or zero waste. Reported airport recycling goals ranged from 10% to 50% (see Figure 7). Of the time-bound goals, 2020 was a common due date. One airport reported that it did not yet have established goals but that goals were in development. Plans and Procedures Sixteen of the participating airports had developed a solid waste management plan (also known as an airport recycling, reuse, and waste reduction plan) to document existing practices and plan future actions to increase landfill diversion, typically in compliance with the FAA master planning requirements. Plans that comply with the FAAâs guidance memo contain the following elements: â¢ Provide a facility and program description â¢ Present the results of any waste audits (also known as waste stream composition studies) â¢ Review the feasibility of recycling and other strategies â¢ Provide recommendations for recycling, reuse, and waste reduction Figure 7. Range of reported numerical diversion and recycling goals. General - Green/sustainable - Proactive - Decision making - Conserve resources/resource efficiency - Zero waste - Minimize consumption - Recycling - Waste reduction - Eliminate waste - Continuous improvement - Long-term benefit Social - Responsible - Stewardship - Leader in the community - Support local industry/create jobs - Quality of life - Stakeholders - Employees, tenants, customers, and surrounding communities - Engage - Customer satisfaction Environmental - Compliance - Performance Financial - Performance - Fiscally sound decisions - Economic development/business opportunities Table 2. Common phrases and concepts in airport policies.
20 Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices Where these plans were developed, they provided high-level roadmaps for achieving waste diversion and other goals and objectives. Two of the survey responses included specific examples of how a solid waste management plan was being used to identify opportunities for improvement and determine future goals. Other comments confirmed the impact proactive planning has had on airportsâ approaches and success in meeting their goals. Detroit Metro, SeattleâTacoma International, RenoâTahoe International, and Tulsa International Airports included example solid waste management plans in their case examples. Ten airports had completed a sustainable master plan, which included elements of waste management planning. Eight airports had completed both a sustainable master plan and a recycling, reuse, and waste reduction plan. Twenty of the participating airports indicated that they had written procedures for waste management or related elements. In this context, a procedure is a set of written instructions to be followed to reach a specified result. Instructions, sometimes referred to as standard operating procedures, were incorporated into facilitiesâ environmental management systems, rules and regulations, tenant leases and janitorial service contracts, and solid waste management plans. Where these procedures were in place, they provided instructions such as regarding which materials were recyclable or compostable, where items should be placed for disposal or recycling, use of specific bag colors, spill response actions, service schedules, and the roles and responsi- bilities of all parties involved in managing the materials and program at large. Some procedures outlined data collection and reporting tasks. The airports also indicated that their container labels, signage, and other posted information served as instructions for employees, tenants, contractors, and passengers. Roles and Responsibilities Twenty-five of the surveyed airports indicated that their programs could be best or most closely described as âcentralized,â defined as âthe airport provides containers for the collection of waste, recyclables, compostables, and other streams and contracts for transportation by a single hauling company.â Nine airports described their programs as âdecentralized,â defined as âthe airport provides containers and contracts hauling for waste materials in airport operated spaces. Airlines, concessionaires, retail shops, and other tenants manage the waste from their leased areas (supply their own containers and contract directly for hauling).â The airports that had a centralized system described this arrangement as beneficial and effective. Because janitorial services and related activities like waste handling are traditionally associated with facility maintenance, the contracts for waste and recycling services have historically been the responsibility of airport facility groups. Where procurement or purchasing departments develop, advertise, and contract for waste and recycling services, these groups may continue to manage the resulting agreements. According to the case example airports, environmental and sustainability departments were taking over the management of these agreements to access the data and relationships needed to improve their waste programs. According to the data collected (see Figure 8), the department most commonly responsible for administering waste and recy- cling contracts at the surveyed airports was a facilities department (17 airports), followed by an environmental or sustainability department (14 airports), and a procurement or purchasing department (eight airports). Janitorial services at the surveyed airports were provided by the facilitiesâ janitorial contractors at 25 of the airports, compared to 20 airports with janitorial personnel on staff. Fourteen of the surveyed airports indicated that their tenants hired janitorial contractors as well. One chal- lenge presented by contracting for these services was the levels of management between airport personnel responsible for waste management strategies and the contractorsâ employees carrying
Waste Management Practices 21 out the everyday actions called for in the program. The airports described establishing lines of communication and collaboration with the janitorial contractor as instrumental in making programs successful. Airports reported benefits from partnering and collaborating with janitorial staff and contractors. Six of the surveyed airports were served by their cityâs or countyâs solid waste utility for material collection; however, 29 of the facilities were served by private waste and recycling companies. Incorporating data requests and educational assistance into contracts were some strategies airports employed to make the most of these arrangements. Waste Management Funding, Costs, and Rebates Fourteen of the 36 surveyed airports, in response to a question about program structure, indicated that their organizationsâ facilities departments funded waste management activities. After facilities, the next most common responses were some form of maintenance and terminal operations departments (10 airports), followed by environmental or sustainability departments (six airports). These were some of the most common services included in airportsâ waste management costs: â¢ Scheduled material pickups â¢ Transfer to disposal site or recycling facility â¢ Tipping or processing fee â¢ Container rental and service â¢ On-call material pickups â¢ Labor Twenty-six of the 36 airports surveyed said that they passed waste management costs on to their airlines, food and beverage concessionaires, retail shops, and other tenants in the lease rates. Six indicated that they directly billed tenants a set charge for these services separately from other charges. Use of a Pay As You Throw volume-based fee system is described in the case example for SeattleâTacoma International Airport (SEA). SEA reported that this strategy was a key, effective component of its program. Figure 8. Waste and recycling contract administration.
22 Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices Twenty-one of the 36 airports surveyed said that they received rebates, incentives, or refunds for recycled materials. When asked for details about such incentives, the most common material mentioned was cardboard (10 airports), followed by metals (nine airports), and then comingled recyclables (one airport). In their comments, the airports explained that some rebates depended on the market price of the material. Five airports provided annual totals for their rebates; these values were in the tens of thousands of dollars. Other forms of financial incentives for recycling and other landfill diversion strategies included free recycling or composting services, reductions or exemptions from tipping fees, and taxes for recycling or composting. Waste Collection Contracting Practices Responsibility for administering waste and recycling contracts was discussed in the previous Roles and Responsibilities section. At the airports where the environmental department adminis- tered or was actively involved in the contracting process, responses confirmed that this improved their access to data and control of activities. The influence contracting has over waste management activities and a programâs level of success is illustrated by the inclusion of review of waste management contracts as one of five topics specified in the FMRA Section 133 requirements. Contracts and other agreements can support or impede sustainable waste management activities, including the waste-generating activities of contractors and tenants. Contracts can be used to overcome the challenges described in Chapter 3, specifically tenant participation, airline participation, janitorial services, and infor- mation availability. Requests for bids/proposals that outline waste-related expectations and levels of service are the first step toward establishing such requirements in a contract or other agreement. Contracts that support sustainable waste management were in place at AustinâBergstrom International, MinneapolisâSt. Paul International, Portland International, RenoâTahoe Inter- national, and Tulsa International Airports. More information about these agreements is included in the case examples, and a toolkit for contracting is included in Appendix 25. Purchasing Practices Twenty-six airports that responded to the survey purchased environmentally preferred sup- plies. These practices are effective in addressing waste through reduction, reuse, or recycling of materials and goods. The most common characteristic of these purchases was that they contained recycled content (26 airports) followed by recyclability (23 airports). Other common attributes included items that were (in descending order) packaged in bulk, reusable, compostable, and sustainably sourced. Descriptions of these purchases frequently included paper products and office supplies. Albuquerque International Sunport, Portland International Airport, Sky Harbor International Airport, San Diego International Airport, SeattleâTacoma International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Snohomish County Airport practiced environmentally responsible purchasing, as described in the case examples. A toolkit for environmentally pre- ferred purchasing is included in Appendix 26. Physical Strategies This section describes physical strategies that align with the EPAâs waste management and food recovery hierarchies.
Waste Management Practices 23 Source Reduction Practices According to the EPA solid waste hierarchy, reducing waste at the source is the most preferred waste management strategy. For this project, âwaste reductionâ is defined as efforts to minimize the overall total amount of waste created, thereby reducing the amount of waste that needs to be recycled, composted, landfilled, or otherwise managed. The EPA food recovery hierarchy also prioritizes source reduction over all other food waste management strategies. More than half of the participating airports indicated that they practiced waste reduction. In text responses describing their waste reduction strategies, several of the airports included information on these practices: â¢ Double-sided printing defaults â¢ Transitions from paper-based to electronic processes and references â¢ Reusable dishes, including tumblers, water bottles, and coffee mugs, made available or issued to employees â¢ Terminal bottle-filling stations â¢ Restroom hand dryers â¢ Rightsizing garbage bags and bin liners Reuse Practices Over a third of the responding airports indicated that they reused materials. For this project, âreuseâ is defined as using materials, equipment, or other items several times either for their original purpose or another purpose in place of single-use alternatives. Reuse lowers the total number of items that need to be recycled, composted, landfilled, or otherwise managed. Several airports described reuse of these types of items in their survey responses: â¢ Grass clippings as mulch â¢ Reusable dishes, including tumblers, water bottles, and coffee mugs, available or issued to employees â¢ Packing materials and cardboard boxes â¢ Office supplies â¢ Towels/rags â¢ Furniture â¢ Pallets â¢ Maintenance supplies â¢ Equipment parts â¢ Construction materials such as concrete, asphalt, and fill One airport noted the use of reusable burlap bags instead of plastic bags for tree and shrub clippings in its landscaping activities. Another provided facilities for tenants to wash plastic food buckets for reuse. Food Donation The EPA food recovery hierarchyâs second priority for food waste is to feed hungry people, specifically through donation of extra food to food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters. Federal and state laws protect food donors from liability. Nineteen of the surveyed airports indicated that their tenants donated food, specifically prepared and packaged food items, to local food security organizations. Many airports that facilitated a tenant food donation program accepted both nonperishable and perishable food items and provided or used refrigerators to maintain
24 Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices safe food temperatures. Most programs included pickup of the food by the receiving organiza- tion. The airports that offered food donation programs reported that it was an effective and rewarding strategy to address the environmental and social impacts of wasted food. AustinâBergstrom International, Denver International, Detroit Metropolitan, General Mitchell International, RenoâTahoe International, Portland International, Phoenix Sky Harbor International, San Diego International, SeattleâTacoma International, San Francisco Inter- national, and Salt Lake City International Airports offered food donation programs to their tenants. More information about their specific systems is included in their respective case examples. A toolkit for food donation is included in Appendix 27; this toolkit includes infor- mation on the federal law protecting donors from liability. Other Donation Programs Donation of items other than food is also beneficial reuse. A small number of the airports indicated that they had donation programs in place for unclaimed lost-and-found items, food service products, toiletries, electronic equipment, or luggage. The receiving organizations for these items included agencies that assist veteran, homeless, foster care, food insecure, and other populations. RenoâTahoe International Airport used a donation program to divert bicycles abandoned during the annual Burning Man Festival from the landfill. More information about this program designed to address a specific local need is included in the airportâs case example. Recycling Practices All the surveyed airports indicated that they practiced some form of recycling. For this project, ârecyclingâ is defined as converting waste materials into new ones. Recycling also includes the collection and separation of materials to prepare them for this conversion. All the airports that responded to the data collection survey and contributed case examples collected recyclables in passenger areas, representing a standard baseline of practice. A toolkit for terminal recycling is included in Appendix 28. Office recycling programs often accompany terminal recycling programs. Twenty-one airports reported that their program had successfully achieved high or increased employee participation. A toolkit for office/workplace recycling is included in Appendix 29. Twenty-seven of the airportsâ programs were comingled recycling or single-stream programs, where materials of several different types could be managed together as one stream. Sixteen airports had additional single material programsâfor example, programs that were just for glass or just for cardboard. Commonly recycled materials included: â¢ Aluminum â¢ Cardboard â¢ Metal â¢ Paper â¢ Plastic Glass was recycled by some of the airports but by fewer than those that recycled these other materials. The comingling of recyclable materials limited the quantity data the airports could provide for individual materials; however, some airports provided annual quantities for specific materials such as aluminum, cardboard, glass, metal, paper, and plastic as well as comingled recyclables. These values are included in the survey response summary (Appendix 2) and in some of
Waste Management Practices 25 the case examples. The airport survey responses also include information about recycling of pallets, batteries, electronics, oil, cooking grease, lightbulbs/lamps, deicing fluid, tires, and construction material. To encourage recycling, the airports typically provided recycling bins, and their collection contractor provided recycling dumpsters and hauling equipment. The survey responses described programs where the recycling compactors and balers were owned by both parties, depending on the facility. SeattleâTacoma International Airport used a system that tracked use of the waste and recycling compactors; this information was used to inform the Pay As You Throw program. More information about this system is included in the airportâs case example. Airports have modified janitorial carts and procedures for servicing containers in terminal and employee areas to combat the perception that recycling is pointless because the material is just being thrown away. Materials from international flights are regulated by U.S. Department of Agriculture; how- ever, items from this source may be recycled under a specific exemption from the Department of Agriculture; see Appendix 3 for more information. Liquid Collection The diversion of liquids out of the waste stream supports increased and improved recycling. Liquid collection stations are an effective tool to reduce contamination of recyclables, protect material values, and reduce the weight of waste and recycling bags. The data collection survey did not ask airports whether they had liquid collection stations; however, five of the case example airports described the important role of these fixtures in their programs: AustinâBergstrom International, Philadelphia International, San Diego International, SeattleâTacoma Inter- national, and Sacramento International Airports. A toolkit for liquid collection is included in Appendix 30. Composting Practices Twelve surveyed airports practiced some form of composting. Of the facilities with compost- ing programs, pre-consumer back-of-house food waste, including coffee grounds, was the most common material. Green or yard waste composting was also practiced at 10 airports. Programs that included paper towels from restaurant back-of-house spaces or restrooms, employee food waste, or post-consumer public food waste were less common. Composting programs at AustinâBergstrom International, Denver International, Detroit Metropolitan, Newark Liberty International, MinneapolisâSt. Paul International, Portland International, Sky Harbor International, San Diego International, SeattleâTacoma International, and San Francisco International are described in the case examples. A toolkit for back-of-house composting is included in Appendix 31. The airports with composting programs typically provided composting bins for food and beverage tenant back-of-house areas. The compactors, scales, and hauling equipment were usually provided by the airportâs contractor. One of the airports indicated that its food waste was processed at an anaerobic digester as opposed to a traditional commercial compost facility using windrow, mass bed, aerated static pile, or other aerobic-based processes. Another facility constructed a dedicated wash facility for composting carts and containers. Composting was reported as an effective practice and an opportunity for growth by the par- ticipating airports. The airports that did not compost indicated that this was due to logistical, economic, or other factorsâfor example, lack of local composting infrastructure or climate conditions.
26 Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices Energy Recovery Practices Thirteen of the airports indicated that they sent their waste to a facility that converted it into energy. The most commonly cited form of this practice was methane capture at the MSW landfills that accepted the airportsâ waste. Methane is produced during the decomposition of waste in a landfill and, once captured, can be processed and used to produce electricity, heat, or vehicle fuel. Another form of energy recovery from waste is the collection of waste fats, oil, and grease from food preparation activities and their conversion to vehicle fuel or another power source. Several of the airports mentioned recycling programs for these materials in their responses to the questions related to recycling, but did not include it as an energy recovery practice. Disposal Practices Thirty-two airports indicated that their waste that was not recycled, composted, donated, or otherwise diverted was disposed of at a landfill. A couple explained that their waste went to an incinerator or energy-from-waste facility, as discussed previously. One airport explained that its landfill-bound waste stream was sorted to extract additional recyclable and compostable materials. Stakeholder Practices Airline Practices Based on the survey results, waste generated from airline areas and activities was typically managed by the airports and airlines in combination. Comments from the airports clarified that terminal waste management programs usually received the waste generated from terminal airline areas and activitiesâfor example, in compactors and dumpsters the airport provided. However, these programs did not usually include waste generated at outlying airport facilities such as flight kitchens and maintenance hangars. Twenty-nine of the airports indicated that some or most of their airlines participated in a recycling program, including 26 airports where some or most of the airlines recycled materials from deplaned waste. Food and Beverage Concessionaire and Retail Practices Operator-led programs, airport-led programs, and programs that combined these efforts were used to manage waste generated in leased food and beverage and retail areas at the surveyed airports. Thirty of the surveyed airports indicated that some or most of the food and beverage tenants participated in a recycling program, and nine airports indicated that some or most of the retail operators also participated in recycling. Food donation by food and beverage operators was more common than composting, as shown by reports from 19 airports that some or most of their food and beverage operators donated versus 16 with operators who composted. Other Tenant Practices When asked about other tenants that contributed significantly to the waste stream, the airport representatives listed these, in order of frequency: â¢ Car rental companies â¢ Flight kitchens â¢ Cargo facilities
Waste Management Practices 27 â¢ Aircraft rescue and fire fighting â¢ Fixed-base operators Some of these tenants used the airportâs dumpsters and compactors, while others contracted completely separately for waste collection services. Other Practices Resources Airport staff have looked for ideas to expand and improve their programs in a variety of places. The following is a summary of the resource types described in the survey responses: â¢ Input from employees, other airport departments, students, and the public â¢ Information from local businesses, waste and recycling companies, city departments, county agencies, local recycling organizations, state officials, other large facilities, and consultants â¢ Ideas from other airports, industry colleagues, industry organizations and events (such as ACI-NA, AAAE Airports Going Green conference, other conferences, and webinars), and the FAA â¢ Industry publications, studies, and reports Airport waste management is an industry of collaboration. Information provided by other airports was mentioned specifically as a resource by more than a dozen of the survey respon- dents. Events and organizations that facilitate collaboration, such as conferences and ACI-NA, were also cited several times in the airport responses. Communication, Education, and Training The airports listed education and outreach, including signage, as the primary ways they attempted to overcome challenges and obstacles in waste management. The airports indicated that information about waste and recycling was communicated to passengers almost exclusively through container labels and signage. Additional communication methods for passengers included public address system announcements, airport websites, and social media. Airport employees typically received information about waste and recycling from container labels and signage. The surveyed airports also used emails, on-boarding or new employee train- ing, recurring training, newsletters, internal websites, meeting presentations, and employee events to spread the word to their personnel. Container labels and signage were also the primary communication tools used to provide information about waste and recycling to tenants. Other approaches to tenant education included emails, meeting presentations, printed guides/brochures, inspections, and events for tenants. One approach for communicating quantities and other metrics to increase the relevance to passengers, employees, and tenants was to convert such values into the equivalent volume of common objects like animals, vehicles, swimming pools, and sports fields. SeattleâTacoma described the amount of material diverted from its carpet replacement project in terms of soccer fields. For more information, see the SeattleâTacoma case example. The case examples describe approaches to communication, education, training, and the responsibility for metrics. Toolkits featuring resources for waste management metrics, signage, and training are included in Appendices 32, 33, and 34, respectively.
28 Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices Reporting About half of the airports said that they had internal reporting practices for information related to waste, including monthly and annual reports and progress updates. About half of the airports indicated that they had external reporting practices for waste-related information. These practices primarily centered on use of airport websites to share annual reports and related information with external stakeholders. San Diego International Airportâs use of the global reporting initiative framework for the facilityâs sustainability report is described in the airportâs case example. As noted previously, the case examples describe responsibility for metrics, and a toolkit for metrics is also available in the appendices. Of specific note, SeattleâTacomaâs case example and supporting documents include information about sustainability analysis and alternatives to tra- ditional weight-based metrics. Effective Practices Summary Based on the airport survey and case example interviews, effective waste management strate- gies include: â¢ Food donation+ â¢ Liquid collection+ â¢ Back-of-house composting+ â¢ Office/workplace recycling for employees*+ â¢ Terminal recycling for passengers*+ â¢ Environmentally preferred purchasing+ â¢ Tenant and service provider contracting designed to increase diversion+ â¢ Pay As You Throw fees for tenants â¢ Training for employees and tenants*+ â¢ Strong signage+ â¢ Measuring and monitoring of metrics*+ *These strategies represent widespread, standard components of airportsâ programs at the time of the writing of this synthesis. +Toolkits for select effective strategies were assembled from sample documents and other resources provided by participating airports. These toolkits can be found in Appendices 25 to 34. Future Strategies Looking ahead, the airports were considering several strategies to increase diversion, with these strategies mentioned most frequently: â¢ Food waste strategies (donation or composting) â¢ Strategies to improve data availability â¢ New bins and containers â¢ New container labels â¢ Liquid collection stations â¢ âGreenâ concession or business programs â¢ Contract improvements â¢ Waste stream or program assessments/studies â¢ Education and outreach â¢ On-site processing facilities
Waste Management Practices 29 Regarding on-site processing, such facilities are subject to FAA wildlife hazard mitigation requirements (such as full enclosure and odor control) to avoid attracting wildlife and main- tain aviation safety. These types of facilities may require approval by the FAA. More infor- mation about requirements for waste, recycling, and composting activities at or near an airport can be found in FAA Advisory Circular 150/5200-33B, Hazardous Wildlife Attractants On or Near Airports. Improvements and advances in technology, for example, on-site aerobic digestors and real- time monitoring systems, may provide additional opportunities to divert and address waste.