Luxembourg Airport tries to keep the entrance to its buildings, its parking and its green spaces clean. Sometimes, cleaning can be done by sweepers, but other times only manually. In this case, the collection of cigarette butts is particularly long and tedious. But if the butts pass by the hatch, their way towards the sewers or watercourse begins.
The content of the filters is harmful to the environment: it consists of a cellulose acetate filter, which is a form of plastic treated with toxic substances to give it its shape (titanium dioxide, triacetin, etc.), tobacco residue and paper surrounding the filter. It contains more than 2,500 chemical components (mercury, arsenic, tar, pesticide residues and other heavy metals, etc.). These are all substances found in nature, where the degradation of this small waste can take up to 15 years. Beyond visual pollution, each cigarette butt not picked up is swept away by natural phenomena (water, wind, etc.) and continues on down the drain, but also in the water tables, rivers, seas and oceans.
Thus, a small cigarette butt alone pollutes the equivalent of 500 liters of water and, in the mountains, one cubic meter of snow! Lux-Airport therefore decided to be the first international airport to take up this issue and joined forces with Shime and MéGO! to collect and recycle this waste.
Shime’s task is to provide ashtrays, collect the waste and transport it to the recycling industry. We could stop at collecting and sorting since we already avoid polluting water, so why go further? The recycling process is expensive, it is worth the effort. The butts are sent to a recycling company in France which has developed an innovative and patented process for cleaning and reusing the material.
At the start of this process, cigarette butts are sorted using an air suction and filtration system ensuring absolute safety. The filter depollution solution does not use any chemical and / or toxic product. The main solvent is water, in a closed circuit. The water is purified with clays as well as the latest water filtration technologies. The water becomes clear and decontaminated again, wash after wash. The same water has been used since the foundation of the company (2.5 m3).
The finished product contains hardly any pollutants (only traces of nicotine are left). The seats of the street furniture are made of PlastiGO! Cellulose acetate blades, which are returnable and recyclable at the end of their life. To produce the material, new filters supplied by the tobacco industry are used as these are production scrap intended for waste.
The SuperDrecksKëscht® label is a distinction for establishments that actively contribute to the protection of the environment through modern waste management according to the SuperDrecksKëscht® fir Betriber concept. This quality label rewards 2,000 companies for their responsible approach and commitment to the environment. It is certified according to the ISO 14024: 2000 international standard. As a result, the waste management policies of labeled companies also fully meet the requirements of ISO 14024.
The main criteria for receiving the SuperDrecksKëscht® label are the implementation of preventive mea-sures, the selective collection of all waste, the environmentally friendly storage of waste and the treatment of waste products through approved companies. This guarantees the protection of the environment and the quality and transparency of recycling and waste disposal.
Compliance with the label criteria is checked once a year. If the company meets the criteria for five successive years, it is awarded a diploma and is audited every two years. This quality label thus contributes to maintaining the foundations of sustainable development through the rational management of natural resources.
With more than 40 different types of waste sorted but only 29 percent recycled, our efforts at lux-Airport must continue, even if the quantities of waste and the level of sorting strongly depend on the behavior of the passengers.
· Reduction of waste production at the source
· Increasing the recycling rate
· Training and awareness of staff and also passengers
· Encouraging reusable packaging
«Plastic waste is increasingly polluting the oceans and according to one estimation, by 2050 the oceans could contain more plastic than fish by weight.» European Parliament
What’s easier than simply removing the plastic cups? It was one of our security staff who came up with this great idea. At lux-Airport, every year staff consume 70,000 plastic cups at water fountains alone.
Plastic cups are generally not recyclable due to the poor quality of plastic used in their production. Instead, they are incinerated or dumped in a landfill where they take 500 years to degrade. Surprisingly, cardboard cups are no more environmentally friendly. Their manufacture from wo
od requires 13 times more water and twice as much electricity than plastic cups. When all processes are considered, the manufacture of a plastic cup requires the equivalent of 3.2 grams oil compared to 4.1 for the cardboard version. Worse still, the thin layer of plastic that covers the inside of a cardboard cup makes it almost impossible to recycle and very complex to compost.
· Waste by 2 tons · Equivalent CO² emissions for production by 200 kilogram · Equivalent CO² emissions for disposal by 2 tons
In our quest to find reusable alternatives, we finally settled on «Gobi» because in addition to the long-term advantages of a reusable container, it is Eco-designed with all of its environmental impact reduced.
It only takes 30 uses to repay the environmental impact of the Gobi bottle. After that, it begins to have a net benefit for the environment compared to single-use plastic cups.
We know that when it comes to the environment, even small gestures can make a big difference, especially when they are multiplied many times. Making the bottle available to our staff is a contribution to the objective of minimizing our environmental impact.
Gobi has a new friend – the new personalized isotherm mug for our staff! It is another step in our ecological journey we encourage. To take a coffee in our shop or in the canteens, this mug will be used instead of plastic or cardboard cups.