Charlotte airport using worms to eat trash

  • Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014 11:00 a.m.

CHARLOTTE (AP) — Problems with recycling equipment at Charlotte Douglas International Airport have prompted officials to bring in one million worms to eat leftover food.

Elements of the airport’s new recycling center have been delayed for more than a year, The Charlotte Observer (http://bit.ly/1ikqiVL) reported.


Assistant Aviation Director Mark Wiebke says the airport obtained a composting permit Monday from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Wiebke says the airport will begin feeding food scraps to the worms in the next few days. The worms’ waste will be used as fertilizer on the airport grounds.

The permit to start composting with the red wiggler worms had been delayed because the airport did not have a required canopy to cover the area outside the recycling center where trash is unloaded.

Samples of the worms’ waste must be evaluated by state experts to check for pathogens, Wiebke said.

The recycling center opened in June 2012 but has had problems with cost overruns and equipment breakdowns. The center is designed to reduce the 10,000 tons of waste the airport sends to a landfill each year.

Airport officials also hope to make money to cover the cost of the $1 million center by selling recyclable goods separated from the trash and by making worm compost with food scraps.

Last year, the recycling center diverted about 2,500 tons of waste from the landfill, reducing the airport’s landfill fees by 24 percent.

Sales of recyclable goods, such as plastic bottles, metal cans and paper, are projected to be $360,000 this year, up from $270,000 last year, Wiebke said.

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