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36 Waste management in the airport environment is a complex undertaking. The convergence of multiple drivers, challenges, waste streams, and materials necessitates a combination of strategies to reduce generation and increase landfill diversion. While some programs are mandated by state or local requirements, all the airport facilities represented in this report exhibited an intrinsic sense of responsibility for conserving resources and reducing environmental impacts. The airportsâ waste goals covered a wide range of targets, including some zero-waste targets. Large- and medium-hub commercial service airports are generally multifaceted organizations with several departments or divisions responsible for elements of waste management. In addition to internal airport stakeholders, the airportsâ programs are influenced by the willingness of other stakeholders, such as waste haulers, recycling companies, nonprofit organizations, tenants, airlines, and passengers, to support waste diversion. Airport waste management programs face a variety of challenges at the micro level. Issues arise from the actions and activities of passengers, tenants, airlines, employees, and janitorial staff. Other challenges include constraints on available space, funding, labor, and control or influ- ence. At the macro level, the availability of waste, recycling, and composting infrastructure and material markets can greatly affect airport waste programs. As sustainability is integrated in more of their operations, airports are looking for solutions that will allow them to achieve higher levels of performance and endure changing conditions. Taking advantage of early and obvious opportunities to manage waste effectively can establish a foundation of success that can be used for additional efforts in sustainable waste manage- ment. These types of opportunities often start with baseline effective practices such as recycling. Terminal public-area recycling serves as a gateway strategy for sustainable commercial airport waste management programs. All airports that responded to the data collection survey and served as case examples collected recyclables in passenger areas. Yet success is not guaranteedâwhile most of the airportsâ recycling programs had been in place for years, they still faced challenges from contamination, especially from liquids, and lost capture. Rebates for recyclable materials are currently less common than they were in the past, challenging airports to fund existing or new recycling programs by other means. To combat these issues, airports have been evaluating and replacing recycling bins, bin labels, and signage to improve passenger participation. Collocation of terminal waste and recycling bins has become standard practice in the industry. A few airports have even converted their terminal bin labels and signage to a national standard. To address contamination from liquids, the number of airports that have installed liquid collection stations has grown. Airports have also been installing water bottle refill stations to provide an opportunity for passengers to practice reuse and reduction. C H A P T E R 7 Conclusions
Conclusions 37 Often, office recycling and employee programs accompany terminal recycling programs. Airports have incorporated reduction and reuse practices into their programs for employees with efforts such as double-sided printing and electronic file management. Employees can also reduce waste by using reusable dishes in breakrooms, airport-issued beverage tumblers and coffee mugs, and other designated supplies and materials. Airport procurement policies may support sustainable waste managementâfor example, through environmentally preferred pur- chasing. At some airports, contracting with janitorial service providers and waste collection companies has evolved to more of a partnership than a simple exchange of services for payment. Airport food waste composting is another practice that has gained momentum, especially composting from terminal pre-consumer back-of-house areas. However, making space for a third stream in restaurant back-of-house areas and on congested terminal aprons and finding a commercial composting facility to accept the volume and type of material generated at an airport can be challenging. Airports have worked with their tenants to encourage and support diversion of food and waste; some have introduced composting requirements into their tenant leases or airport rules and regulations. Others have introduced recognition and certification programs, which acknowledge tenant efforts to reduce and divert waste. Figure 10 summarizes the distribution of recycling and composting programs at the surveyed medium- and large- hub airports. To augment the benefits of recycling and composting, airports have been redirecting items such as luggage, lost-and-found items, paper goods, and food from landfills through donation programs. These partnerships with local community organizations enable airports to engage in the social element of sustainability. Food donation is one practice among these that has received increased attention and interest from airports. Several airports included in this project had established processes to collect, store, and present edible, nutritious food to organizations equipped to distribute it within the community. To facilitate food donation programs, airports have been providing education on liability and infrastructure for safe and efficient handling of donated food to overcome tenant concerns that may have been preventing their participation in these programs. The use of data collection and metrics gives airports evidence of program successes or challenges, which allows them to redirect efforts appropriately. The airports included in this study were tracking their waste generation, composting, recycling, and diversion rates and received actual and estimated data from a variety of sources. They shared updates on their Figure 10. 2017 airport recycling and composting practices.
38 Airport Waste Management and Recycling Practices progress with internal and external stakeholders and were constantly working to fine-tune and expand their programs. Airports also shared information about best practices with other facilities and supported efforts to improve waste management across the industry. By supplementing the baseline practices with the effective strategies identified in this report and summarized in this chapter, airports around the country may see further progress and improvement in waste reduction, diversion, and the sustainability of their operations. Suggestion for Further Research Further research on airport waste management may be necessary to support the industryâs sustainability goals and programs. The limited nature and scope of this synthesis leaves informa- tion gaps, including: â¢ Documentation of the influence of economic factors, such as tipping fees, on the scale and success of airport recycling programs â¢ Costâbenefit analyses of recycling, composting, reuse, reduction, donation, and other practices â¢ Development of waste reduction strategies appropriate for airports â¢ Evaluation of the effectiveness of airline and concessionaire practices â¢ Analysis of passenger waste behaviors and terminal signage strategies â¢ Evaluation of current metrics and identification of standard metrics and methods of calculation â¢ Evaluation of current practices and recommended strategies for coordination with waste haulers (including resource management) â¢ Analysis and suggested approaches for effective interaction between airport environmental and custodial staff