Can Disposable Tableware Make Airports Nationwide Greener?

As anyone who travels knows all too well, a lot of people pass thru America’s airports on any given day, and during the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, it seems that the whole world is passing through YOUR airport. America’s connecting airports, like Chicago and Dallas, handle an unbelievable amount of passengers throughout the year just moving tourists and business travelers to their destinations. I find it amazing that many of these locations still don’t have recycling containers or composting bins available for people to dispose of their trash properly. Everything just goes into one trash can.

Whenever you get this many people in one venue, some of whom are there for an extended period of time, two things happen: People eat, and there is a lot of trash to deal with at the end of the day. There are a few simple solutions which can alter the amount of trash that needs to be hauled away to a landfill, and they are simple fixes that make a big difference. The secret is simple: Compost the waste.

Walk thru the food court of any airport and you will find the following merchants, regardless of brand name: Hamburgers, pizza, coffee, maybe a bakery, Chinese food/noodle bowls/rice bowl, Mexican food and probably an ice cream/gelato vendor. I am sure I missed your favorite, but these are basic food stalls that we can all identify with because they are everywhere. Let’s look at what they have in common and how we might be able to reduce the trash that comes out of these vendors.

We can make the airport greener with a simple disposable plate when we make that disposable plate a COMPOSTABLE plate. There are many products on the market made from bagasse (sugar cane) and bamboo which are annually renewable resources that are compostable. So what does that really mean? If you toss a foam plate or tray in a landfill, it will be there until the next ice age. Foam will not break down and disappear, so we need to keep finding more landfill space for plastic and other petroleum-based products, but compostable items will break down in a commercial composting facility, and even in a backyard compost bin or pile. A commercial facility can break down a compostable, disposable plate or bowl in about 60 days.   If the local airport food merchants would serve those meals on compostable, disposable plates and platters, or in a compostable bowl, along with the soft drink or coffee being served in a compostable cup and lid, we could eliminate tons of trash from the local landfill every week, depending on the size of the airport.

There is a wide assortment of eco-friendly containers, tableware, cups and more made from sugar cane, bamboo and other annually renewable resources which make these products sustainable, and by composting them at the end of their use, we turn the waste into mulch which can then be used to grow more food or help gardens, lawns or parks, use less water to keep them green and growing. So we saved water, decreased or eliminated the need for additional landfill space, lowered the airport’s actual cost for trash hauling services by reducing the overall tonnage that needed to be removed from the facility. Sounds like a good solution, and this would more than offset any additional cost increase in using the compostable, disposable plate as opposed to the foam or plastic version. Sounds like a win-win for the airport, the taxpayer and the local community.