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  April 12th, 2017 | Written by

DHL and Gatwick Turn Airline Waste Into Energy Onsite

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  • First biomass combustion system in an airport.
  • Gatwick Airport aims to hit 85 percent recycling rate.
  • New waste management plant at Garwick would save $1,250 per day in energy costs.

Gatwick Airport and DHL Supply Chain today formally open a new waste management plant, becoming the first airport in the world to turn airport waste, such as food and packaging, into energy onsite.

DHL’s new $4.7 million waste plant not only disposes of waste safely onsite, but converts it and other organic waste into energy to heat Gatwick’s waste management site and power the site’s water recovery system. The plant is set to save $1,250 in energy and waste management costs for 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, used as fuel to heat the site and dry the waste for the next day.

Gatwick currently treats 2,200 tons of Category 1 waste each year, around 20 percent of the total generated at the airport. The new energy plant will process around 10 tons per day. All Category 1 waste was previously processed offsite.

With the objective of boosting the airport’s recycling rate from 49 percet today to around 85 percent by 2020, the plant includes a waste sorting center to maximize recycling onsite. 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.

“After a decade of working closely with Gatwick, we’re excited to still be finding innovative ways to improve operations across the airport,” said Martin Willmor, senior vice president, specialist services, UK, at DHL Supply Chain. “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.”

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.