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Airport food waste to be used as farm fertiliser

Food waste generated at Heathrow airport will be turned into fertiliser for local farms, under an agreement between BAA and Vertal.

Waste will be collected from the airport’s cafes and catering outlets, and sent to Vertal’s 75,000 tonne capacity autothermal thermophillic aerobic digestion (ATAD) plant in Mitcham, South London, where it is reduced into fertiliser over 72 hours ready for use on local farms.

The scheme is expected to save around half a million air miles worth of carbon dioxide over its first year of operation.

BAA Heathrow airport waste manager Nathan Gray, said: “Heathrow is the world’s busiest international airport, and we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously.  Recycling is a key part of that.

“We’ve already raised [recycling] levels to 50% this year, and we’ve committed to a target of 70% by 2020.  Introducing food waste recycling is helping us to achieve that.”

Vertal managing director Leon Mekitarian, said: “Our accelerated composting technology is significantly more carbon positive than any other process.  And as the market matures and new legislation comes on stream, that’s becoming a very important business factor. We can really help companies of all sizes drive down the cost of waste management, and capitalise on the benefits.”

Other organisations that employ food waste recycling schemes with Vertal include the London Borough of Lambeth, sandwich retailer Pret a Manger, and the Dorchester hotel.

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