Boosting Recycling at Austin’s Airport

Airport Recycling

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Last year, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) contracted with Texas Disposal Systems (TDS), one of the largest independently-owned solid waste collection, processing, and disposal and diversion companies in the nation, to provide waste disposal and recycling services at the airport. Since then, ABIA has more than doubled its diversion rate, which means that, with the help of TDS, it has cut the amount of materials being sent to the landfill by 13 percent, compared to the previous provider’s final year of operation.

TDS, a company with Austin roots, seems like a natural fit for a partnership with ABIA, a local airport filled with homegrown businesses. Working together, the terminal recycling program collects an average of 52 tons of recyclable material every month, which translates to 15,600 cubic yards over the course of a year. This is equivalent to stacking waste the length of a football field more than seven feet high.

To help diversion efforts, ABIA significantly increased the number of terminal recycling containers, and the airport’s blue bag program ensures that recyclables make it to the correct TDS collection container. ABIA also attributes the increased diversion rate to a high level of customer service and improved employee education. TDS has trained all ABIA custodial staff regarding proper recycling and disposal techniques, and will soon expand training to include airline, restaurant and retail employees. The company also introduced new signage in areas such as employee break rooms and luggage carts on the tarmac to encourage good recycling habits.

Since ABIA opened in 1999, it has worked to reduce its impact on the environment by recycling, using alternative fuels, reducing electric and water consumption, and building with recycled materials. The partnership with TDS will further efforts to reduce the airport’s environmental footprint and operate as efficiently as possible.

TDS services the entire airport and currently employs five full-time employees who are located onsite. In the near future, the company will begin composting services at ABIA as well. All food and beverage vendors will be trained by TDS and ABIA staff and have behind-the-scenes composting stations for compostable waste.

TDS and ABIA expect diversion rates to improve even more as the partnership grows, as both are committed to making the airport as green as possible for the benefit of Austinites and the environment.

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