DHL, the logistics business, has announced the formal opening of a new biomass plant at Gatwick Airport. The £3.8 million development is believed to be the first of its kind to treat waste products from international flights.
This category one waste includes packaging and food which comes into Gatwick from flights outside of the EU. It can be a high-waste type of product, as it often contains animal by-products which cannot simply be recycled.
Every year, Gatwick products nearly 10,500 tonnes of rubbish, which includes 2,200 tonnes of this type of waste. Until now it has been diverted to specialist landfill sites which are equipped to handle hazardous waste. The new biomass plant, located near to the North Terminal, will instead treat the waste on-site and reduce the number of journeys that carrier vehicles have to make to and from the landfill site.
The plant will then use a compliant combustion system which will burn the waste safely at source, alongside other organic material. The waste will produce usable heat which will be pumped back into the waste site itself, and there are plans for it to be used for the North Terminal's heating requirements in due course.
The treatment process for organic materials at the plant has been devised by Tidy Planet, the high-tech composting firm. The organic matter will be shredded and dried in an industrial unit at a high temperature, until it reduces into a powder-based residue. This is then passed through a rotating screen to remove any residual foil and plastic, which goes into a biomass boiler to burn for heat production.
The development is expected to make c. £1,000 worth of energy savings every single day at a cost of £35 per tonne of treated waste.