Hartsfield-Jackson to eliminate Styrofoam at airport concessions, require compostables

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Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plans to eliminate Styrofoam from its concessions and require use of compostable materials by Oct. 1.

The airport for six years has aimed to roll out a sustainable food court initiative to compost waste from airport concessions.

But it has struggled to find a composting facility to handle the waste, and the airport's "Green Acres" project to build a composting and recycling facility has gone through multiple procurement attempts and delays. Hartsfield-Jackson is in negotiations toward a contract for the project.

Now, however, the world’s busiest airport plans to roll out one major step by requiring concessionaires to go Styrofoam-less and to use compostable materials starting in October.

The materials concessionaires use will have to be certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute or accepted by Cedar Grove Composting.

Some concessionaires have already stopped using Styrofoam, while others will need to convert their materials by the deadline.

Even without a composting facility, “it’s a less toxic stream going to the landfill,” said Hartsfield-Jackson senior sustainability leader Liza Milagro. “We have the opportunity to be an industry leader in converting materials for all of the major brands at the airport.”

The airport’s sustainable management plan introduced in 2011 includes a goal of reducing waste by 90 percent by 2020.

Milagro said there has been increased attention to environmental issues recently. "I can thank the president for bringing so much attention to sustainability," Milagro said.

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