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Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices (2018)

Chapter: Chapter 5 - Data Sources and Metrics

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Data Sources and Metrics." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25254.
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Page 30
Page 31
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Data Sources and Metrics." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25254.
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Page 31
Page 32
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Data Sources and Metrics." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25254.
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Page 32

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30 Airports monitor, measure, and track various metrics associated with waste management to evaluate their progress and identify opportunities for improvement. According to the surveyed airports, this is usually the responsibility of an environmental department. Airports obtain actual and estimated data from a variety of sources. Common metrics include total amount of waste generation, diversion, disposal, recycling, and composting. These metrics are usually tracked in terms of weight (tons or pounds) and are used to compare current performance with established goals, objectives, and targets. Data Sources The most common source for quantitative information about airports’ disposal, recycling, and compost was information that hauling contractors provided. Twenty-eight of the surveyed airports indicated that they received raw data from their hauling contractors. This information is typically included on service invoices or scale tickets. For airports with a food donation program in place, the receiving organization typically provided information about the quantity of material donated. Eight of the surveyed airports did not receive data from their haulers—for example, because their waste was on a shared route with other facilities or because this service was not required in their contracts. For seven airports that did not receive weight data, collection invoices provided the information needed to calculate information on generation and diversion—specifically, container sizes and number of “pulls,” or times the container was emptied or swapped on a scheduled or as-needed basis. Two airports indicated that they had scales on site to measure waste, recycling, and composting. A few airports indicated that they estimated disposal, recycling, and other values from previous facility studies (seven airports), industry averages (two airports), or costs (two airports). Figure 9 summarizes the airports’ disposal, recycling, and compost data sources. Part of sound waste management is documenting program progress, for example in a study or report. A waste stream composition study was the most common type of data collection activity completed by the surveyed airports. Twenty-one of the surveyed airports reported that they had evaluated the makeup of their waste streams. These studies involve several steps. First, the study team collected a sample of the facility’s waste stream. Next, contents were physically sorted into categories by material and diversion potential (generally donatable, recyclable, or compostable, and sometimes liquid). Sorting was followed by measuring the amount of each material present. Finally, a report described the overall composition of the material stream based on the findings of the sort. These studies typically included samples of recycling to calculate contamination rates and landfill-bound waste to quantify lost recyclables. The metrics airports used to measure progress are discussed in the following section. C H A P T E R 5 Data Sources and Metrics

Data Sources and Metrics 31 The second most common study or data collection activity performed by the surveyed air- ports was an airport recycling, reuse, and waste reduction plan. As described in Chapter 2, these plans are required in airport master plans, master plan updates, and sustainable master plans. The surveyed airports reported these other studies or data collection activities, in order of frequency of response: • Sustainability report • Airline, concessionaire, retail, or other tenant survey • Recycling or waste management report • Audit of recycling or composting facility • Sustainable master plan • Passenger interviews or behavior study Waste Generation, Disposal, Diversion, and Recycling Metrics Airports use waste generation, diversion, disposal, recycling, and composting metrics to track performance and measure progress toward goals and targets. They also measure contamination and lost capture in terms of proportion of the overall recycling or waste stream, respectively. The survey asked the airport representatives to select the ways in which their programs had been successful. Table 3 contrasts the most frequently selected indicators with those selected less often. The difference could indicate that these metrics are more challenging to measure or more difficult to achieve for various logistical or resource-related reasons. As noted in Chapter 3, airports have sometimes calculated their metrics differently. Airports commonly use weight-based metrics; however, material volume affects the amount of material that will fit in a container, dumpster, truckload, and so forth. When using weight-based Figure 9. Disposal, recycling, and compost data sources.

32 Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices metrics, light, bulky items like Styrofoam and thin, rigid plastics may be underrepresented. Accounting for the greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste collection, transportation, and disposal provides an opportunity to demonstrate the link between waste generation and its environmental impacts beyond consumption of landfill space. More airports (21) provided a numerical value for total facility waste generation than for any other metric. Few airports provided generation, disposal, diversion, or recycling total weights for specific areas of the airport. Of the airports reporting total facility waste generation in pounds per passenger, the average was about half a pound per passenger. One case example airport specifically noted that it used values normalized to passenger activity when measuring program progress to allow for year- over-year comparisons even as passenger activity levels rise and fall. Recycling rate is a common metric calculated from generation and recycling weight data. To calculate recycling rates, most airports divide the weight of their recyclables by the total weight of waste generated by the facility and multiply by 100. The weight of recyclables can also be divided by the sum of the weight to landfill and weight recycled with the fraction multiplied by 100. Reported annual recycling rates are included in the survey response summary (Appendix 2) and case examples. Few airports reported recycling rates for specific facilities and areas. Diversion values are calculated from the actual or estimated amount of waste diverted from the landfill through reduction, reuse, donation, recycling, and composting strategies. Selected More Frequently Selected in Fewer Responses • High or increased management support (23) • High or increased landfill diversion (22) • High or increased recycling capture rate (22) • High or increased number of material types recycled or composted (21) • High or increased employee participation (21) • High or increased concessionaire/retail participation (21) • Low or reduced total waste generation (14) • High or increased airline participation (13) • High or increased passenger compliance (12) • Low or reduced contamination rate (9) Table 3. Airports’ reported successes.

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TRB's Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 92: Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices focuses on airport waste management and recycling practices that reduce impacts and costs to airports and their surrounding communities. The information in this study was acquired through a literature review, survey results from 35 organizations representing 36 airports from a range of geographic locations and airport classifications, and interviews of a subset of 21 airport waste management experts. The results of the literature review and survey are presented in this short report. Supporting Materials, Case Examples, and Toolkits for ACRP Synthesis 92 includes survey results, case examples representing in-depth interviews on specific airport waste management and recycling practices, and toolkits of existing effective practices to assist airports in implementing their waste management and recycling programs.

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