Volume List  / Volume 12 (2)

Article

OPTIMIZING AIRPORT SUSTAINABLE WASTE MANAGEMENT FROM THE USE OF WASTE-TO-ENERGY TECHNOLOGY AND CIRCULAR ECONOMY PRINCIPLES: THE CASE OF LONDON GATWICK AIRPORT

DOI: 10.7708/ijtte2022.12(2).03


12 / 2 / 176-195 Pages

Author(s)

Glenn Baxter - School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Suan Dusit University, Hua Hin Campus 77110, Prachaup Khiri Khan, Thailand -

Panarat Srisaeng - School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Suan Dusit University, Hua Hin Campus 77110, Prachaup Khiri Khan, Thailand -


Abstract

Underpinned by an in-depth qualitative instrumental case study research approach, this paper reviews the waste-to-energy (WtE) system at London Gatwick Airport. The airport opened its waste-to-energy (WtE) plant in 2016 and London Gatwick Airport was the first airport in the world to covert wastes to energy onsite. Category 1 and other types of organic waste are converted into biomass fuel that is used to power the processing plant and provide heating for the airport’s North Terminal. The waste plant also provides power to the site’s water recovery system. London Gatwick Airport’s waste-to-energy plant generates 1MW of renewable energy and can generate 22,500kW of heat each day. The environmental-related benefits from this system include a reduction in truck vehicle journeys to external waste plants, which has resulted in lower vehicle-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, lower vehicle noise levels, and less vehicle congestion. The water recovered from the waste-drying stage is also used to clean waste bins located throughout the airport. This re-use of water has enabled the airport to reduce its annual water consumption by 2 million litres per annum. The ash recovered from the system’s biomass boiler can be used to make low carbon concrete thereby reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Importantly, since 2016, no wastes have been disposed to landfill thereby mitigating the environmental impacts associated with landfill wastes. London Gatwick Airport has applied the circular economy principles to its waste management. As such, the airport aims to re-use and recycle waste wherever possible and those wastes that are unsuitable or not permitted for re-use or recycling are recovered for energy. Since Gatwick Airport’s waste-to-energy plant (WtE) became operational in 2016, the annual volumes of wastes recovered for energy were 5,677 tonnes in 2016, 5,509.6 tonnes in 2017, 4,939.9 tonnes in 2018, 3,930.5 tonnes in 2019, and 1,243.6 tonnes in 2020, respectively.


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