Gatwick’s world-first waste plant has been shortlisted for a prestigious Sustainability Leaders Award.
The news follows the airport’s signing of the international Airports Sustainability Declaration, which has been designed to strengthen worldwide collaboration between airports to improve the sharing of environmental innovation, knowledge and best practice.
Gatwick has been shortlisted after becoming the first airport in the world able to dispose of Category 1 waste on site and convert it into energy – an issue that costs the global aviation sector around £500 million a year.
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 however Gatwick’s new £3.8million processing plant – delivered in partnership with DHL – will not only dispose of this waste safely on site, it will also 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.
Simon Duggan, senior logistics manager, Gatwick Airport, said: “Being short listed is recognition of the work we have put in to get to this stage, but we will not stop here. We are already looking at making this waste plant bigger to cope with the growth in our passenger numbers in coming years. We are also exploring how our construction waste can be reused and recycled as much as possible to help us reduce the amount of carbon we use.”