April saw news that Gatwick Airport will be the first in the world to turn waste into energy on its premises. Together with DHL, they have combined to open a new waste management plant – ensuring that it is the first airport in the world to turn the category 1 waste from airlines into energy on site.
This type of waste makers up the majority of waste from non-european flights and is estimated to cost the global activation system £500 million each year. The new energy plant will be able to process 10 tonnes per day and therefore has the capacity to recycle more waste than it produces, even with an increase.
The project itself has cost £3.8 million pounds, and works by turning organic airport waste (like food, cups meal trays and packaging) into energy. This can then be used to heat and provide a water recovery system to the airports waste management site. In turn this will save the airport £1,000 in waste management costs as well as energy per day which means that the project will pay for itself after just 10 years activity.
As part of a bigger project, the airport will be boosting its recycling rate from under 50% to a projects 85% within 3 years. The waste for Gatwick was previously processed elsewhere, so the plant will also reduce traffic and carbon emissions in the process by cutting to half of their lorries carrying waste. They will also be generating energy from a biomass boiler, and generating an impressive 1MW of renewable energy. Even the ash from the biomass boilers can be used to make low carbon concrete!
Both Gatwick and Green Square hope that this can be seen as a leading example, and more airports will follow this concept and idea in the future.