Above: Charles Kirwan-Taylor, sustainability director, Gatwick, and Martin Willmore, senior vice president, DHL Supply Chain
DHL Supply Chain and London Gatwick Airport have opened a new £3.8m (US$4.8m) waste management plant, which enables Category 1 airline waste to be turned into energy on-site.
The plant is a world’s first for an airport and will save £1,000 (US$1,260) in energy and waste management costs every day it operates.
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 and meal trays from international transport vehicles. Through the plant, waste is turned into a dry-powdered organic material, which is then used as fuel to heat the site and dry the waste for the next day.
With the objective of boosting the airport’s recycling rate from 49% to around 85% by 2020, the plant includes a waste-sorting center to maximize recycling on-site. Concentrating all activities in one location enables the team to transport waste four times more efficiently than before, reducing local traffic and carbon emissions. The plant has also been designed with the future in mind and has the capacity to produce additional energy that could one day be used to power other areas of the airport.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, said, “Our new world-beating waste plant turns a difficult waste problem into a sustainable energy source. We’re confident it sets the benchmark for others to follow in waste management.”
DHL Supply Chain, Gatwick’s partner on the project, currently manages inbound deliveries for the airport’s 150 partners and retailers. Martin Willmor, senior vice president, specialist services, UK, DHL Supply Chain, said, “After a decade of working closely with Gatwick, we’re excited to still be finding innovative ways to improve operations across the airport. Disposing of Category 1 waste can be very costly and time-consuming, but our new waste management and recycling system is a huge step forward.
“Gatwick is leading the way in converting waste on-site into an energy source and we’re already investigating a number of further initiatives to support sustainable energy production and the future expansion of the airport.”