Gatwick Airport is to start processing around 10 tonnes of mixed food waste a day at a new on-site £3.8m MRF and energy-from-waste (EfW) facility.
Gatwick said it will be the first airport in the world to set up an on-site plant to deal with category 1 waste, made up of food, packaging, cups and meal trays from international flights.
The waste processing plant and biomass boiler, the result of a partnership with DHL Supply Chain, will become operational in November. The energy produced will power the plant and provide heat for the North Terminal.
Gatwick said processing waste in this way would boost its recycling rate to around 85% by 2020. Its current rate stands at 49%.
The airport estimates the system will result in 210 fewer industrial-size waste bin collections a day.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “We expect others to follow our lead as we realise our ambition to become the UK’s most sustainable airport. Already we are one of only a handful of organisations in the country to achieve a triple series of Carbon Trust Standard awards, and more important environmental initiatives will follow soon.”
Paul Richardson, managing director of specialist services at DHL Supply Chain UK & Ireland, said: “This will not only improve efficiency but help to accelerate the airport’s progress, enabling it to meet its 2020 sustainability targets three years early.
“We will work closely with Gatwick Airport to integrate technologies such as our biomass EfW system into the supply chain, enhancing energy production and ensuring a sustainable platform to support future expansion for the airport.”