Recyclable materials like water bottles, soda cans and cardboard food containers discarded by passengers at Miami International Airport (MIA) will soon be diverted from the landfill following a recycling contract with Ecological Paper Recycling, approved by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners on Oct. 1.
The countywide agreement expands the airport’s recycling program to include glass, plastic and metal containers, along with paper and cardboard materials currently collected only in MIA’s office areas.
In addition to reducing the amount of recyclable waste generated by MIA, the program will generate revenue to the Miami-Dade Aviation Department through rebates. The county’s previous contract for paper and cardboard recycling produced $117,265 in net revenue countywide during fiscal year 2012. MIA’s 39.5 million annual passengers and 36,000-plus employees generate more than 6,000 tons of waste annually.
The aviation department estimates that 6 percent of all waste at MIA is currently recycled but expects an increase to 20 percent by 2015 with the new program. The department plans to first deploy 100 recycling containers in MIA’s North Terminal in March 2014 and then 500 more in May wherever garbage receptacles are located throughout the airport.
In another example of an airport implementing environmental initiatives, earlier this year the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) hired a herd of goats to provide sustainable vegetation management at O’Hare International Airport.
The program will help CDA achieve economic and environmental benefits, CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino says. These include reducing landscape maintenance costs from fuel, labor, herbicides and equipment, as well as eliminating mowing and transporting landscape debris to landfills. The goats provide an alternative to toxic herbicides, help prevent runoff, reduce use of CO2-emitting lawnmowers and weed-eaters, and reduce the use of heavy equipment, thus minimizing soil erosion.
The goats join a host of other sustainability initiatives the CDA has implemented at O’Hare and Midway International airports, including solar panels, electric-vehicle charging stations and a composting program. O’Hare Airport also has an aeroponic vegetable garden that feeds 10,000+ people a year. The airport grows 1,100 crops at one time in the garden’s vertical tower.
Photo Credit: Miami International Airport