When it comes to flying, go with the flow

by timmel 10/4/2012 8:49 AM

Environmental cues are a big part of encouraging behavior change. This is especially true when it comes to waste management. The flying public is an active participant in helping us effectively manage our waste streams at PDX. Most people have become accustomed to separating out recyclables and composting is becoming more commonplace, especially in Portland, but what about separating out liquids?

Imagine the last time you flew out of the airport – you were probably focusing on getting your documents in order, removing your shoes, taking your laptop out of your bag and then, “what am I going to do with this bottle of water I only drank half of?” In 2008, we introduced our first liquid collection stations at PDX to help remove liquids from our waste stream. The stations prevent liquid-filled containers from being sent to waste handlers, reduce costs in janitorial services and allow passengers to reuse their container post-security. Though the stations have diverted 100 tons of liquid from the landfill since their installation, we had a sense that they might be inconspicuous in this busy section of the airport.

With help from the Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project, we stood out at each security check-point for two hours and polled passengers coming through. Did they use the liquid collection station? Did they see it at all? What would make it more noticeable? What we discovered was that although the stations had collected 100 tons of liquid in the last four years, they actually had a fairly low rate of use and many people did not see them at all. Polled passengers recommended bigger stations, brighter colors and images that encourage people to stop and look. Earlier this summer, we rolled out redesigned stations, shown below. The redesign was based almost entirely on the public feedback we received. We are currently in the process of collecting six months of data to gauge the effectiveness of the new design. 

Also, be sure to check out the station featured in Airport Magazine.


Seaport Celebration: a Zero Waste event

by timmel 8/24/2012 2:22 PM

Last weekend, Terminal 4 was host to another successful Seaport Celebration. The annual event is a festive day of family-oriented activities put on by the Port of Portland and many of our community partners and terminal operators. Though the weather was unseasonably mild, people of all ages turned out to enjoy interactive displays, games, jet boat tours and a cruise on the Portland Spirit. This year’s event was a first-rate success in another regard.

We have been steadily improving upon waste minimization efforts at our headquarters building, with a goal of achieving Zero Waste status. This is no small feat when you consider that our main office is home to about 450 employees on any given work day. We also strive to minimize waste whenever possible at Port-sponsored events and this year we are proud to report that Seaport Celebration was a Zero Waste event.

After tallying the numbers, the event achieved an impressive 97 percent waste diversion rate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency threshold for Zero Waste status is a 90 percent or greater diversion rate. Much of this success is due to dedicated Port staff and the efforts of the Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project. PTAP staff is part of Portland State University’s Community Environmental Services program and work in partnership with Port staff to reduce landfill-bound waste by implementing recycling, composting and other waste prevention programs.

Related Links

Zero Waste Alliance

PSU - Community Environmental Services - Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project