Waste and Recycling
There is a lot that happens at an airport, much of which results in some sort of waste, whether it is from passengers grabbing a meal on the go, restaurants and shop owners maintaining inventories, cargo handlers moving goods, or aircraft food service.
With proper sorting and handling, some waste can be recycled or reused rather than being sent to landfills. This creates cost savings and is a way to minimize the impact of airport operations on the environment.
Inside the airport terminal, passengers have access to recycling bins in concourses, at security checkpoints, and in food court areas. Food and beverage and retail businesses recycle a wide range of pre-consumer materials, and airlines recycle deplaned waste. Our recycling program follows the City of Phoenix guidelines to keep our message consistent. For more information about Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport recycling and a complete list of recycled materials and programs, please see below.
The Aviation Department has been able to almost double the rate of waste diverted from the landfill in the last 10 years. The Aviation Department plans to achieve Zero Waste by 2050 through emphasis on the circular economy focusing on the use of less raw material, reusing and repairing before recycling, and procuring for longevity.
Waste reduction and recycling programs provide outreach and coordination with airport staff, tenants, and business partners to reduce airport solid waste generation and minimize contributions to landfill. Inside the airport terminal, passengers have access to recycling bins in concourses, at security checkpoints, and in food court areas. Food and beverage and retail businesses recycle a wide range of pre-consumer materials, and airlines recycle deplaned waste.
Why Recycle and the Benefits
More than one million tons of solid waste are taken to the City of Phoenix SR85 Landfill each year. Approximately half is from residences and the other half from commercial entities like airports, schools, apartments, factories, stores, and offices. This total tonnage does not reflect material taken to privately owned landfills or by other cities in the metro Phoenix area. This total amount and volume of material could fill Chase Field from top to bottom at least seven times each year. It also is equal to about one ton of garbage per resident per year (or 28 full garbage curbside containers per year). The City of Phoenix recycling program has had the effect of extending the capacity of city landfills by diverting almost 120,000 tons of recyclables each year. These materials have a great number of high volume/low weight items including plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, and aluminum cans.
Benefits of Recycling
- Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills
- Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals
- Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials
- Saves energy
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
- Helps sustain the environment for future generations
- Helps create new well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States
- For additional information, refer to the EPA Recycling Basics.