North Carolina's biggest airport in Charlotte is embarking on an extensive composting program to absorb its food and paper waste, while making money selling the excess.
A worm-based composting system will be a central part of its new $1.1 million recycling center, reports the Charlotte Observer, which is scheduled to open in February.
300 pounds of worms will digest the ton or so of food and paper waste generated at the airport every day. The system will be able to handle 2 tons a day, enough to keep up with the airport's expansion.
The airport will spread the compost to fertilize its 6000 acres of land, and will package and sell the rest.
Composting will reduce garbage disposal costs significantly, as the airport currently pays to collect it, haul it and dispose of it in landfills. The airport expects the recyclng center to pay for itself as it will save $1 million in waste disposal costs over the next five years alone.
The recycling center will also sort and sell aluminum, plastics and paper to recyclers.
Raleigh's airport is considering doing the same. Chicago Airports are also in the midst of major green initiatives including solar installations, green roofs, recycling and composting programs.
Airlines could take a cue from these iniatives - they remain severe laggards on recycling the huge amount of waste they generate.
Here's an EPA report, "Developing and Implementing an Airport Recycling Program":