Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) saved enough energy through recycling in 2004 to power 502 households, according to a report released by the National Resources Defense Council, a nationwide organization dedicated to protecting public health and the environment.
In the study, entitled “Trash Landings: How Airlines and Airports Can Clean Up Their Recycling Programs,” researchers looked at 30 airports across the country and found most are not taking advantage of all possibilities to cut waste at their facilities.
“While Portland, Seattle-Tacoma and Ft. Lauderdale airports were also used in the report as successful examples of good recycling programs, LAX’s program is considered the most successful of its kind in the country,” stated Roger A. Johnson, deputy executive director of Environmental Services for Los Angeles World Airports.
The study identifies opportunities and barriers to recycling, and spotlights top performers as examples for other airports to follow.
Airport officials said another highlight of the report was the fact that LAX reduced greenhouses gas emissions by an amount equal to removing 2,228 passenger cars from the road for a year.
The report went on to note that LAX experienced 29 million passenger departures during 2004, the year in which the study was conducted. Total waste generated by these passengers amounted to 19,000 tons, or approximately 1.3 pounds of waste per passenger.
In all, LAX recycled 12 tons of aluminum, more than 2,021 tons of cardboard, 89 tons of newspapers and 527 tons of office paper.
The airport also recycled 17 tons of glass products, nine tons of plastic beverage containers, 913 tons of plastic film and 271 tons of food waste.
These examples, along with those from other airports, provide case studies and a comprehensive reference for other airlines and airports to enable them to begin taking advantage of similar savings opportunities, airport officials said.
The study states as a final conclusion that airport and airline recycling programs are underdeveloped and achieve minimal envi- ronmental benefits. It says that if recycling waste programs were implemented at all U.S. airports, the reduction in emissions could equal the removal of 80,000 cars from the road.
Recommendations for implementing and improving airport recycling programs range from giving priority to buying products made from recycled materials to designing new terminal space with recycling in mind.
“The report provides some good recommendations for improving airport recycling programs,” Johnson said, “and we will be incorporating many of these suggestions into our existing program.”
LAX is one of four airports owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports, a City of Los Angeles department. The others are LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT), LA/Palmdale Regional Airport and Van Nuys Airport (VNY).