A new £3.8 million waste recycling plant - the first of its kind in the world - is being built at Gatwick Airport.
Energy generated from waste will power the new plant - and heat the airport’s North Terminal building.
Gatwick will also become the first airport in the world to dispose of ‘Category 1’ waste - the majority of waste from non EU flights including food waste, packaging, cups and meal trays - on site and turn it into energy.
Category 1 waste, which currently costs the global aviation industry around £500 million a year, is governed by strict rules.
Up until now, it has required specialist processing offsite to protect against the potential spread of disease and infectious material.
The new plant, being built in partnership with specialist services firm DHL, is expected to go into operation in November when it will process around 10 tonnes of waste a day.
The plant also includes a waste sorting centre which is expected to boost the airport’s recycling rate to around 85 per cent by 2020 – higher than any other UK airport.
Meanwhile, a biomass boiler is to be installed on the airfield this month to provide the heat required by the new plant , with a second boiler due to be installed in the North Terminal early in the New Year.
Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “Handling waste is a challenge for all airports, but Gatwick’s new World-beating facility converts a waste problem into a green energy source.
“We expect others to follow Gatwick’s lead as we realise our ambition to become the UK’s most sustainable airport.”
DHL managing director Paul Richardson said: “This will not only improve efficiency but will help to accelerate the airport’s progress, enabling it to meet its 2020 sustainability targets three years early.”