Gatwick, in partnership with DHL, says it will become the first airport in the world able to dispose of Category 1 waste on site and convert it into energy.
Category 1 forms the majority of waste from non-EU flights and is defined as food waste or anything mixed with it – such as packaging, cups, meal trays – from international transport vehicles.
Its disposal is governed by strict rules that – until now – require specialist processing offsite to protect against the potential spread of disease and infectious material.
From November Gatwick says its new £3.8million processing plant will dispose of this waste on site and convert it and all other organic waste into energy to power the new plant and heat the North Terminal.
Gatwick currently treats 2,200 tonnes of Category 1 waste each year – around 20% of the total generated at the airport (10,500 tonnes) – and the new energy plant will process around 10 tonnes a day.
The plant also includes a waste sorting centre as Gatwick brings responsibility for sorting in-house to maximise the amount recycled – a move that will boost the airport’s recycling rate to around 85% by 2020 – higher than any UK airport currently and up from 49% today.
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, said: “Handling waste is a challenge for all airports, but Gatwick’s new World-beating facility converts a waste problem into a green energy source.
“We expect others to follow Gatwick’s lead as we realise our ambition to become the UK’s most sustainable airport. Already we are one of only a handful of organisations in the country to achieve a triple series of Carbon Trust Standard awards, and more important environmental initiatives will follow soon.”
Paul Richardson, Managing Director, Specialist Services at DHL Supply Chain UK & Ireland said:”We will work closely with Gatwick Airport to integrate new technologies such as our Biomass Waste to Energy System into the supply chain, enhancing energy production and ensuring a sustainable platform to support future expansion for the airport.”
DHL Supply Chain already manages inbound deliveries at Gatwick Airport through its logistics and consolidation facility on behalf of the airport’s 150 partners and retailers.
The airline industry currently generates approximately 4.5 million tonnes of cabin waste per annum at a cost of around $500 million, which is set to double in the next 15 years.