Auckland Airport halves cabin waste sent to landfill

Tuesday, 29 March, 2016

Auckland Airport halves cabin waste sent to landfill

Facilities management company OCS, Auckland Airport and the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), in collaboration with Air New Zealand, have developed an innovative way of re-using processed aircraft cabin waste, with an average of 695 kg of waste recycled every day.

Auckland Airport Sustainability Manager Martin Fryer said the airport previously saw 40 tonnes of cabin waste compacted, steam sterilised and buried in landfill each month to meet MPI’s biosecurity risk requirements. Frustrated with the waste management process and lack of innovation, Fryer went to OCS — which also specialises in sustainable waste solutions — to help come up with an innovative idea.

“The innovative solution was to build a waste management facility,” said OCS Wasteline Solutions Manager Tony Phillips. “Auckland Airport repurposed a rundown building and OCS staffed the facility with seven shift workers who were trained to sort the waste to MPI specifications.”

Since the facility’s opening in June 2015, said Fryer, the waste facility has exceeded expectations in terms of the amount of waste re-used and recycled. “Our goal is to reach 80% diversion of the airport’s waste from landfill by 2030,” he said.

MPI Senior Quarantine Officer Doug Farr said he was happy to work with OCS and Auckland Airport to identify non-risk items that could be streamed off individually for re-use and recycling. He said, “The new process of sorting waste has actually made the real biosecurity risks easier to manage, as genuine risk items are easier to steam sterilise once separated from a pile of other waste.”

Air New Zealand also welcomes the new facility, with head of sustainability James Gibson saying “... this facility has allowed us to substantially improve our approach to international in-flight waste management, which is subject to far greater restrictions due to biosecurity controls.”

OCS is meanwhile continuing to push innovation boundaries at the airport, coming up with a concept to divert back-of-house food waste from airside landfill as well.

“We have implemented procedures for capturing and separating all food waste to MPI biosecurity standards, preventing this food waste from going to the transitional waste facility,” said Phillips.

“At this stage, around 35% is being diverted from landfill and we expect this to increase to 50% once we commence the sorting process.”

Image caption: Collaborative partners involved in setting up the new transitional waste facility  Auckland Airport Sustainability Manager Martin Fryer, MPI Senior Quarantine Officer Doug Farr and OCS Wasteline Solutions Manager Tony Phillips.

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