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Hartsfield-Jackson launches new recycling program

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

The world's busiest airport, which generates nearly 70 tons of garbage a day, and discards approximately 2,000 tons of it per month, recently launched a new recycling program, known as GreenSortATL.

In addition to making the airport's operation more eco-friendly, the effort will create 28 jobs and make recycling more efficient for the 250,000 passengers the airport serves daily.

According to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials, passengers will be able to throw away garbage -- and recyclable items -- in the same receptacles.

About 240 receptacles have been dispersed throughout the airport, and each is labeled with the GreenSortATL logo. According to officials, they are able to hold 30-35 gallons of compressed wastes. The receptacles compress the garbage every fifth time a passenger discards items.

"Combined waste will be transported via a hybrid truck," said Tom Nissalke, director of Environmental and Technical Services, at Hartsfield-Jackson. "We will reduce the amount of trash that will normally land in landfills," he added, during a recent press conference at the airport.

According to Jeanie Dubinski, general counsel for Waste Pro USA, the waste-removal company will use vehicles powered by compressed natural gas, to haul the litter to appropriate facilities, once the compressed natural gas fueling facility has been completed.

"We just took over the entire facility," Dubinski added. "We are investing $3 million to expand, to accommodate airport recycling. Waste Pro is honored to be the green waste hauler for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport," she said. "Waste Pro is focused on recycling today for a better tomorrow."

Dubinski said once waste and recyclable items are transported to Waste Pro's Atlanta facility, which is approximately 15 minutes from the airport, the garbage will be separated from reusable items, by Waste Pro workers.

"It is the right thing to do," said Jim Drinkard, assistant general manager for Planning and Development at Hartsfield-Jackson. "It [recycling] has been such a public emphasis worldwide ... we want to be right in the spirit of that. "Being as big as we are, we have an impact," added Drinkard, about the airport's effect to the environment.

Airport officials said Hartsfield-Jackson plans to reduce the amount of waste it transports to landfills by 50 percent by the end of GreenSortATL's first year of operation, and 70 percent by its second year.

"One of Hartsfield-Jackson's goals is to operate in an environmentally responsible manner, and that's why we are pleased to launch our new recycling program," said Ben DeCosta, aviation general manager at the airport. "We aim for GreenSortATL to become one of the largest such programs in the Southeast, and to make Hartsfield-Jackson as green as any airport in the nation."

The GreenSortATL initiative is being managed by Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corp., the airport's facility management company, officials said.