John Wayne Airport (JWA) conducted a waste characterization study (WCS) in 2016. The study included conducting a 24-hour waste audit to evaluate the composition of waste from JWA’s Terminals. The WCS data revealed that 30 percent of JWA Terminal refuse by weight was food (organic) waste. In response to this finding JWA recently launched a diversion program to reduce the amount of food waste that JWA sends to landfills and put it to beneficial re-use. The airport food waste diversion program includes two primary elements.
The first element is JWA’s encouragement to restaurants to participate in food recovery programs. Many of JWA’s food concessions donate wholesome unwanted food for distribution to local pantries. The recovered food is picked up daily and given to a local charity that serves community programs helping citizens who are facing food insecurity.
The second element is JWA’s active engagement in a food waste recovery program. JWA provides training, collection bins and contract support services to divert food waste to beneficial use. In February 2018, JWA’s food concessions participated in training sessions to learn how to separate, collect, and dispose of food waste in special bins at the airport to divert it from landfills. The Environmental Resources Management team provided the training, developed signage for food preparation areas and office spaces and procured food collection bins and bags for distribution to food concessions. A contract waste hauler picks up the separated food waste from the Airport and transports it to a facility where it is turned into a slurry that is used to generate biofuel through anaerobic digestion.
This program supports JWA’s compliance with Assembly Bill (AB) 1826 which requires that businesses recycle their organic (food) waste that goes beyond what is required by the ongoing green waste composting program. The community benefits from this program through additional landfill space and a reduction in the generation of greenhouse gases. This reduction occurs with the removal of the waste from the landfill and turning it into a fuel source.