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Article from BTNews 23 SEPTEMBER 2019

Heathrow new war on plastic

New technology that could turn unrecyclable passenger waste into airport furniture, uniforms and alternative fuels is being trialled at Heathrow in a UK first which could see the airport processing 100% of its redundant plastic.

University College London and Sheffield-based company Catal are using funding from Heathrow’s Innovation Prize to set up a new research and development (R&D) unit this autumn, aiming to make the technology commercially viable by 2025.

The work will involve testing a new recycling unit (below) that backers say will help to solve the issue of waste from terminals and aircraft cabins for which there are limited commercial recycling options.

Almost 50% of airport and aircraft cabin waste is currently recycled, comparable with most local authorities, despite strict regulations on cabin waste from international flights, which mean most of the material must be sent for incineration or landfilled.

The pilot plant is said to have the potential to save up to 5,000 tonnes of waste from incineration every year by turning it into its original oil state for recycling.

Once the waste is refined using the new technology, the resulting oil is collected and processed in a separate facility which uses renewable hydrogen to upgrade the oil into new generation, low-carbon products such as furniture and uniforms.




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Louis Gonzalez-Lopez, London

"Almost 50%" (of) "cabin waste is currently recycled". That's crazily low, considering that most of the waste that comes from or is left on a plane COMES FROM THE AIRLINE ITSELF it the form of single use plastic stirrers, cups, food packaging, bottles, magazines etc. etc. Airlines need to redesign to incorporate re-usability, streamed recycling ( over which they have great control) or compostability.

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