People often complain that long lines at Denver International Airport are a waste of time, but there are also tons of actual waste cycling through the airport each year. And the airport hopes to make sure nearly 60 percent of that never ends up in a landfill.
According to airport sustainability manager David Fridland, preliminary numbers indicate that DIA processed 12,000 tons of trash in 2023. That’s the equivalent of 6,000 large adult buffaloes and more bulk than the Eiffel Tower, which weighs just over 11,000 tons. Of the 12,000 tons collected last year, nearly 21 percent was diverted from the landfill to recycling or composting. The city’s diversion rate as a whole in 2023 was 26 percent.
That 21 percent stat is the highest diversion rate in the airport’s history. In 2022, it diverted 20 percent of its waste as the numbers bounced back from the pandemic low of just under 16 percent “Generally, we offer waste services — recycling, trash, compost — to all of our tenants at the airport,” Fridland says. “There are a few airlines that do it themselves with their de-planed waste, but for the most part everyone’s participating. In that way, we have quite a bit of control and also visibility into all the waste streams to deal with contamination and making sure folks are following the rules.”