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Heathrow Airport Limited

Pioneering waste audit highlights opportunities to recycle over 50 per cent of Heathrow Airport’s waste and generate estimated operational savings of more than £250,000 per annum.

“This pioneering analysis is the first step in fully understanding what waste we are producing and the infrastructure and processes needed to achieve our stretching recycling targets”

Mark Robertson –Waste and Environment Manager, Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL)


Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) manages 26,000 tonnes of the 110,000 tonnes of waste generated by the airport, its passing travellers and the 320 business units that operate on site.

A pioneering waste audit by Closed Loop UK highlighted opportunities for the world’s third busiest airport to recycle over 50 per cent of its waste and generate estimated operational savings of more than £250,000 per annum.


In 2012 Closed Loop UK was asked to help HAL increase its recycling rates and achieve zero (untreated) waste to landfill by 2020.

The ambition was to increase HAL’s 37 per cent recycling rate to 70 per cent by 2020. This, in a context where recycling rates at the airport were severely restricted by EU requirements to incinerate all airside and aircraft cabin waste – at least 35 per cent of the overall waste stream.

Current recycling rate of 37%. Aim to achieve 70% recycling rate by 2020.


To achieve this, Closed Loop began gathering data on the composition of accessible HAL waste and show the potential resale value from extracting recyclable material.

Closed Loop’s innovative mobile materials recycling facility, Turnstile, analysed about 100 tonnes of waste from airport terminals and aircraft cabins. The two month process included an audit that inspected waste at a granular level – more effective than conventional waste assessments which assume waste samples represent the composition of the entire waste stream.

The Result

Closed Loop showed that more than half of the HAL waste stream is recyclable, including up to 60 per cent of cabin waste.

Recovering and reselling these resources will save HAL over £250,000 per annum and substantially improve the environmental sustainability of its operations for stakeholders, staff and customers.

Value of estimated recoverable resources can reduce operating costs by over £250,000.


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