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Passengers pitch in to divert landfill waste

Written by: Alexa Stone

The latest Airports Council International rankings place Orlando International Airport (MCO) at 11th busiest in the United States. It also is the 3rd fastest growing U.S. airport. MCO and Orlando Executive Airport are administered by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA).

Challenge can bring opportunity. Size and growth expand environmental impact, but also increase the opportunity and value of resiliency initiatives. To balance “environment and community outreach, and the economics of managing the airport”[1], GOAA has formalized longstanding sustainable initiatives, documenting them in the GOAA Sustainability Management Plan (SMP).

Diverting waste from the landfill

Published in 2013, the SMP lists several initiatives. The first of those is an increased diversion rate, consigning less waste to a landfill.

Currently, 45.4 million passengers per year arrive or depart through MCO. They have a significant impact on waste management.

As they stride through the airport, passengers are likely to be most concerned about one of the 918 daily arrivals and departures. Discarding trash and recyclables in the correct receptacle is a lesser concern.

Understanding the traveling public’s perspective, MCO places trash and recycle receptacles side-by-side. The containers display standardized labels that illustrate materials to be recycled. For the passenger, sorting becomes instant and automatic. Recyclable items find their way to recycling receptacles. This diverts the items from the landfill and makes them available for better uses.

Measuring impact and reporting results

Recurring waste audits prove that even when in a hurry, travelers can recycle right.

The rubber-gloves task of a waste audit quickly reveals where food waste and other contaminants have made their way into recycling receptacles. After sorting, the materials are weighed.

Solid Waste Management (SWM) strategies extend far beyond the passenger terminals. At the Automated People Mover/Intermodal Terminal Facility (APM/ITF), over 95% of construction waste has been diverted. Other SWM initiatives have recycled or repurposed 10,994 lbs. of textiles, including donated clothing and discarded uniforms.

More results in resiliency

GOAA’s 2017 Sustainability Performance Report Card reveals that over 2,235 tons of solid waste have been diverted from landfills. A 21.8% increase in waste diversion rate fulfills 43.6% of the Sustainability Management Plan goal. The report card also cites progress in several other initiatives:

  • Energy Use Intensity (EUI) has been reduced 6.3%
  • Potable water use per passenger has been reduced 11.5%
  • Double the number of new or renewed concessions contracts include sustainability language
  • The 2017 GOAA Passport to Wellness Program brought 12 wellness lectures and workshops, onsite health screenings, twice-weekly onsite fitness classes and more.

Each day, when passengers “pitch in” to a recycling recptacle, they divert trash from a landfill while contributing a wide-ranging record of achievements.

[1] Sustainability Management Plan, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, 2013, p.4.