Gatwick building first airport waste plant of its kind in the World - promoting it to the top of the recycling league

07 September 2016

Gatwick, in partnership with DHL, is set to become the first airport in the World able to dispose of Category 1 waste on site – an issue that costs the global aviation sector around £500 million a year – and convert it into energy, the airport announced today.

Category 1 forms the majority of waste from non-EU flights and is defined as food waste or anything mixed with it – such as packaging, cups, meal trays - from international transport vehicles.

Its disposal is governed by strict rules that - until now - require specialist processing offsite to protect against the potential spread of disease and infectious material.

From November however Gatwick’s new £3.8million processing plant willnot only dispose of this waste safely on site, it will also convert it - and all other organic waste - into energy to power the new plant and heat the North Terminal. 

Gatwick currently treats 2,200 tonnes of Category 1 waste each year – around 20% of the total generated at the airport (10,500 tonnes) – and the new energy plant will process around 10 tonnes a day.

The plant also includes a waste sorting centre as Gatwick brings responsibility for sorting in-house to maximise the amount recycled – a move that will boost the airport’s recycling rate to around 85% by 2020 – higher than any UK airport currently and up from 49% today.

Other environmental benefits from the new plant include:

Processing category 1 waste and sorting mixed recyclable waste on site

50% fewer lorry journeys to external waste plants reducing CO2 emissions

Generating energy from biomass boiler

1MW renewable energy

Water recovered from drying waste used to clean the bins

2 million litres per annum reduction in water use

Ash recovered from biomass boiler could be used to make low carbon concrete

Reduction in CO2 emissions

Compressing waste into large bales 

210 fewer industrial-size waste bin collections a day across the airport, reducing CO2 emissions

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, said:

“Handling waste is a challenge for all airports, but Gatwick’s new World-beating facility converts a waste problem into a green energy source.

“We expect others to follow Gatwick’s 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, Specialist Services at DHL Supply Chain UK & Ireland said:

“We have worked closely with Gatwick Airport over the past decade and are delighted to build our relationship further by implementing an innovative waste management and recycling system. This will not only improve efficiency but will 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 new technologies such as our Biomass Waste to Energy System into the supply chain, enhancing energy production and ensuring a sustainable platform to support future expansion for the airport.”

DHL Supply Chain already manages inbound deliveries at Gatwick Airport through its logistics and consolidation facility on behalf of the airport’s 150 partners and retailers.



-        The airline industry currently generates approximately 4.5 million tonnes of cabin waste per annum at a cost of around $500 million, which is set to double in the next 15 years. (Page 2 – IATA)

-        Definition by DEFRA of Category 1 Waste

-        The waste to energy system blends low grade un-recoverable wet food waste and organic food packaging such as napkins etc and dehydrates it to create a solid biomass fuel. Part of the fuel produced is consumed by the system but the remaining fuel can be used in a variety of heating applications, including space heating and hot water.

-        Gatwick will install a biomass boiler on the airfield to provide the heat required by the new plant in September, with a second boiler due to be installed in the North Terminal early in the New Year.

-        Gatwick’s latest ‘Decade of Change’ sustainability report shows the airport making strong progress on its 2020 targets which include ambitious reductions in energy, carbon, waste and water. As part of Gatwick’s route map to be the UK’s most sustainable airport, Jacobs was commissioned to identify UK and European airports that are achieving best in class performance for environmental efficiency in energy, waste, water and carbon. Jacobs’ research shows that Gatwick is performing well but can do more to match exemplar performance by airports such as Arlanda and Copenhagen. Later this year Gatwick will be announcing further initiatives as part of its sustainability route map for 2020 and beyond.

Click Here to Upload An Event