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Friday, February 15, 2013

Strategic CSR - Waste

The National Public Radio story in the url below demonstrates how a regional airport (Charlotte Douglas International in North Carolina) is dealing with a persistent problem—the “half a pound of garbage” that the average traveler leaves after every visit:

“But instead of just sending all that trash to the landfill, Charlotte has taken a different approach. It's the first airport to put worms to work dealing with trash.”

In short, the airport is trying to process internally all the twenty-five tons of daily waste generated by operations, rather than paying others to take it away for them:

“A dozen employees pluck out recyclables and sort through aluminum, plastic and more, so passengers don't have to do the sorting in the terminal. … Recyclables are crushed, baled and sold for cash. There are shirts sorted and laundered and donated, and plastic cups collected. (The shirts come from people who toss clothing when they suddenly discover their suitcases are too heavy.) The organic stuff — waste from airport restaurants, food scraps off planes, and the half-eaten Cinnabon that a traveler has tossed out — mixes in a big tank for a few days to start the composting process. Then it's time for the stars of this show to take over.”

The “stars” are 1.9 million worms that “eat half their weight a day” and process the organic material into compost that is then used to fertilize the flower beds on the airport’s grounds. Overall, the results are impressive:

“In the four months since this operation got under way, trash going from the Charlotte airport to the landfill is down an impressive 70 percent.”

The worms are central players:

“Worm poop. Go ahead and giggle. Charlotte officials sure did as they debated the $1.2 million it cost to launch the program. But they're not laughing now: The airport expects to be making money off its trash in five years.”

Have a good weekend

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One Airport's Trash Is 2 Million Worms' Treasure
By Julie Rose
December 18, 2012
National Public Radio