PostHeaderIcon Worms to Manage Waste at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

planeCharlotte Douglas International Airport handles more than 700 flights per day, more than 32 million passengers annually, and is still expanding. In 2010 the Airport received the prestigious Eagle Award, given by IATA, for “Best Airport.”

As part of the Airport’s waste management strategy it is opening a $1.1 million recycling center in February 2012 to handle plastic, paper, aluminum, and organics. The recycling center should pay for itself in 5 years or less as hauling and fuel charges increase.

The organic wastes which include food scraps, paper, and facility green waste will be first composted in a 1600 square foot composting system and then sent to an 8000 square foot worm composting facility that will contain 300 pounds of worms. The worm castings fertilizer produced by the worms will be used at the 6000 acre Airport. If excess fertilizer is produced it will be sold to the public.

This is the first US Airport to utilize worms for waste management, but it is likely to be joined by many others in the future. The use of worm composting systems can be a very cost-effective method for converting organic waste into an odor free, environmentally friendly organic fertilizer.

More details are available at the Charlotte Observer

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Our Objectives

Increase local production and use of organic fertilizers and soil amendments.

Decrease the amount of fertilizers that enter our lakes, streams and waterways.

Decrease the amount of organic waste that is landfilled and combusted.

Decrease the amount of fossil fuels used to generate and transport fertilizers and soil amendments.

Fast Facts Municipal Waste

Why care? The US Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) estimates that 243 million tons of municipal waste was generated in 2009. This included 34 million tons of food scraps, 34 million tons of yard trimmings, and 85 million tons of wood and paper.

In 2009, we recovered the following amounts of material through recycling and composting:
62% of paper and paperboard
14% of wood
60% of yard trimmings
2.5% of kitchen waste

Fast Facts Organic Waste

There are more than 450,000 animal feeding operations (AFOs) in the US. Each year they generate more than 250 million tons of organic waste which if not handled properly contaminates local surface and subsurface water systems. Every day one cow generates 120 pounds of wet manure - an amount equivalent to 20-40 people.

The typical grocery store, restaurant, coffee shop, and food service location throws out more than 100 lbs of food and organic waste every day. The majority of this organic material ends up in the landfill.

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