Heathrow Airport sets its sights on closed loop procurement

Heathrow Airport has undertaken its first in-depth waste audit to gather more robust data on arisings in a bid to drive more sustainable procurement throughout its operations.

Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) manages the waste generated by more than 320 businesses across the site as well as the thousands of travellers passing through every day.

While around 110,000 tonnes of waste materials are generated each year at Heathrow, HAL only directly manages a quarter (26,000 tonnes) with the majority collected by other businesses operating at the airport.

The myriad of regulations that HAL has to operate within means that it is denied access to a large percentage of the waste materials generated.

Speaking to edie, HAL’s waste & environment manager Mark Robertson said its seemingly low recycling rate of 37% was in part due to the fact that airside waste and aircraft cabin waste had to be incinerated to comply with EU Animal By-Product Regulations.

“It’s significant to us because 35% of our waste stream effectively is off-bounds,” he said.

As part of an on-going sustainability review, HAL decided a new approach was needed to ensure that the data collected was reliable.

It teamed up with Closed Loop Environmental Solutions (CLES) to carry out a comprehensive waste audit using a mobile material recovery facility to analyse 100 tonnes of waste.

Not only did the initial analysis reveal that there was more packaging waste and more material in general that was suitable for recycling than previously thought, but up to 60% of the aircraft cabin waste analysed could be recycled.

The results will not only enable HAL to develop a clear business strategy on how it manages waste at Heathrow going forward, but it will also help CLES to influence the 3,000 stakeholders and 97 airlines so that the products they procure are designed for a closed loop market.

A more detailed account of Heathrow’s waste strategy can be read here

Maxine Perella and Nick Warburton

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