FAA Issues Guidance on Recycling

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently issued a Program Guidance Letter (PGL) 12-08 to instruct Airport District Offices (ADOs) on how to implement portions of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA).

Among other things, FMRA incentivizes the environmental sustainability of airports by broadening the definition of “airport planning” to include “developing a plan for recycling and minimizing the generation of airport solid waste, consistent with applicable State and local recycling laws, including the cost of a waste audit.’’ In effect, the PGL requires that when an airport applies for an Airport Improvement Program grant for an Airport Master Plan, the ADO must confirm that the Master Plan scope of work includes reviewing solid waste recycling at the airport before the grant can be approved. In other words, if an airport wants to update its Master Plan, it has to incorporate a plan for recycling and minimizing the airport’s solid waste. Moreover, that recycling plan will need to include a waste audit and must be consistent with State and local recycling laws. The PGL also states that APP-400, the Airport Planning and Environmental Division within the FAA’s Office of Airport Planning and Programming, will be developing guidance on what an airport recycling plan should contain.

ESA Airports is in a unique position to assist airports with planning for recycling. Our staff will apply their knowledge of airport planning protocol, airport operations, and commercial recycling options to develop an airport recycling plan that is clear, current and functional. Recycling services vary from city to city, and the spectrum of recyclable materials is ever-increasing, so the best recycling plans will identify the full range of options applicable to your locale. ESA Airports can assess your recycling program and tell you how to maximize its effectiveness among all airport occupants and users. Examples:

  • Concessionaires: What are local sources of compostable food service ware and take-out containers? Are concessions using them?
  • Passengers: Can you provide water bottle refilling stations so passengers can bring empty bottles through security, then reuse them?
  • Maintenance: Do you have cardboard and scrap metal bins? Does your staff know where they are and how to use them?

Going for LEED gold, or better? Our LEED AP staff can evaluate your waste stream and recommend ways to divert more, earning you one or more LEED points. We can also train concessionaires directly, or show airport staff how to train them, to divert and prevent solid waste.

Our experience includes waste studies at numerous large commercial enterprises, including an ongoing multi-year effort to profile the discards from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). This study is being done to fulfill the local waste hauler’s obligation to provide yearly waste profiles to SFO for planning and monitoring purposes. The study involves photographing and observing waste loads to quantify recyclable and compostable materials among the discards from the terminals, maintenance areas, and outlying concessions such as the consolidated car-rental facility.

Need assistance with designing or improving a solid waste program at your airport? Please contact Mike Arnold at marnold@esassoc.com or Steve Alverson at salverson@esassoc.com for more information.

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