How Airports Can Improve Their Recycling Programs
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How Airports Can Improve Their Recycling Programs

How Airports Can Improve Their Recycling Programs Every airport could increase the volume of waste it diverts from landfills. Therefore, an airport recycling program always has room for improvement. Getting more participation in the recycling program from airport staff, tenants, and passengers is the key to better metrics.

Provide Continuing Education to Staff and Tenants

When your airport launched its recycling program, airport employees and tenants probably received extensive training. Due to factors like employee turnover, and changes to the recycling program, ongoing education for airport staff and tenants is a must. Strategies for continuing education could include:
  • Onboarding recycling training. During the training process for new airport employees, include recycling training. Also, if your airport has a broader sustainability initiative, highlight how recycling ties into the overall vision.
  • Regularly review recycling initiatives. Remind team members how to recycle in their current job during weekly staff meetings. During monthly and quarterly reviews, discuss where your recycling program is succeeding and areas that need improvement.
  • Create and distribute recycling literature. One way to do this is to hand out recycling posters for tenants to post in employee-only areas. The posters should remind the tenant of any recycling-related duties that are part of the tenant's agreement with the airport. It can include text and images to show tenant employees recycling techniques used at your airport.
  • Consider creating a colored liner system. Make it easier for maintenance staff to handle waste correctly. For example, all recycling bins may have blue liners while trash receptacles have black liners.

Get Passengers to Recycle More

Many passengers would recycle if they knew what to do. Here are ways to remove barriers to passenger recycling.
  • Keep trash receptacles next to recycling bins. When trash cans are not paired with recycling bins, customers frequently throw everything into the trash can because they are not going to look for a recycling bin.
  • Increase passenger access to recycling bins. You may want to conduct a facility walkthrough to identify places where it would make sense to put recycling bins. For instance, food court recycling bins may fill quickly during mealtimes. If they're filling faster than maintenance employees can empty them, you'll need larger capacity containers or more units in your facility. Other places you may need to add recycle bins could be before security checkpoints, in the parking area, or near ticket counters.
  • Make it obvious what your recycling bins are. Label them with simple words. For example, cans and bottles is a better label than plastic, glass, and aluminum. Also, picture labels help travelers who don't speak English.
Combing a more accessible and straightforward recycling program for passengers, with continual education for staff and tenants, will improve diversion rates. While these changes will take time to achieve, it's important to continually re-evaluate and optimize your Airport's Recycling program to ensure future success.

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