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Gatwick is ‘first’ airport in the world to convert waste into energy

Charles Kirwan-Taylor, Gatwick's Sustainability Director and Martin Willmor, senior VP for specialist services at DHL Supply Chain
Charles Kirwan-Taylor, Gatwick's Sustainability Director and Martin Willmor, senior VP for specialist services at DHL Supply Chain

London Gatwick has become the first airport in the world to turn waste into energy onsite

The new waste management plant, formally opened by Gatwick Airport and DHL Supply Chain, will turn airport waste such as food and packaging into energy onsite. The airport aims to achieve an 85% recycling rate, the best of any UK airport, in turn saving £1,000 per day in energy costs.

Costing £3.8 million, the waste plant not only safely disposes of Category 1 waste but also converts it and other organic waste into energy to heat Gatwick’s waste management site and power its water recovery system.

Defined as food waste and anything mixed with it, such as cups, meal trays and packaging, Category 1 waste forms the majority of waste from non-EU flights. Gatwick treats 2,200 tonnes of Category 1 waste each year, around 20% of the total generated at the airport. The new energy plant will process 10 tonnes per day. Until now all Category 1 waste was processed offsite.

Gatwick’s new plant forms part of a much bigger strategy which aims to increase the airport’s recycling rate from its current 49% to 85%. The plant has been designed with the capacity to produce additional energy that could be used one day to power other areas of the airport.

“On our journey to become the UK’s most sustainable airport, our new world-beating waste plant turns a difficult waste problem into a sustainable energy source. We’re confident it sets the benchmark for others to follow in waste management,” said Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO.

“Our ambitious plans to develop in the most environmentally responsible way possible are driven by a set of rigorous targets. I’m delighted to say our strategy is working and, despite passenger numbers doubling, our environmental footprint is better today than it was in the early 1990s.”

Charles Kirwan-Taylor, Gatwick's Sustainability Director and Martin Willmor, senior VP for specialist services at DHL Supply Chain