U.S. airports waste hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by discarding 4,250 tons of aluminum cans and other items that could be recycled, a new report says.
The two-year study by the Natural Resources Defense Council examined recycling efforts at 30 U.S. airports. The report found that the industry threw out 9,000 tons of plastic and enough newspapers and magazines to fill a football field to a depth of more than 230 feet.
"Airlines in the U.S. throw away enough aluminum cans every year to build 58 new 747s," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at NRDC. "Along with a huge amount of recyclable waste, the industry is throwing away a significant amount of money."
Lyndsay Rossman, a spokeswoman for the industry group Airports Council International-North America, said airports are constantly seeking ways to save money and preserve the environment.
"Our airport members often have programs in place in their communities to capture the benefit of reducing waste streams through recycling," she said. "In addition, ACI-NA provides forums for our members to showcase their recycling and environmental programs so that other members can implement similar programs."
Among the study's findings:
_Airports put out about 1.28 pounds (576 grams) of waste per passenger in 2004, about one-third of the total amount Americans generate in an entire day.
_Recycling 70 percent of the aluminum cans currently discarded would save the amount of energy used by 5,000 U.S. households in a year.
_Aluminum accounts for 1 percent of the air travel industry's waste stream. But the energy benefits of recycling one ton of the substance are 11 times that of recycling one ton of newspaper and eight times that of recycling the same amount of plastic.
The report called for better recycling programs. It cited cost savings of more than $100,000 (euro75,386) a year at airports in Seattle-Tacoma and Baltimore, whose programs include sending used coffee grounds to a compost facility instead of the dump.
The study was released Tuesday.
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