Waste-as-a-resource: Dallas Fort Worth Airport uses cooking oil to close the loop
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is one of the busiest airports in the world and one of the most ambitious ones when it comes to sustainable solutions. As a leader in sustainability, DFW Airport has made big strides to lower its environmental impact. The airport’s goal was to reduce passenger CO2 emissions by 15 percent by 2020. The goal was achieved two years ahead of schedule, and now, DFW Airport has a new bold goal: to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.
The first and largest airport in the Americas to achieve carbon neutral accreditation.
Achieved a goal of 15%
reduction in emissions per passenger.
Pounds of used cooking oil waste collected per month.
DFW continuously explores new ways to incorporate sustainable practices into its day-to-day operations. To achieve this, the airport has decided to look at its waste management processes.
3 challenges DFW wanted to solve
1. Waste management efficiency With more than 200 restaurants and kiosks across a six million square feet airport terminal, collecting waste — specifically, used cooking oil — was complex and inefficient. In fact, each vendor had its own waste collection process and schedule.
2. Enhancing customer experience The cooking oil waste collection process was all too visible for travelers passing through; drums of used oil were hauled through the terminal, creating noise, odors, spills and congestion.
3. Reducing carbon footprint As DFW is firmly dedicated to sustainable solutions in its day-to-day operations, recycling cooking oil was seen as an ideal opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Mahoney Environmental, a wholly owned subsidiary of Neste - a licensed EPA recycler of used fryer oil, waste cooking oil - is one of the leading providers of backend services to industrial kitchens across North America.
To reduce disruptions to passengers from the used cooking oil removal process, Mahoney provided an entirely new back-of-house operation for all restaurants and kiosks, introducing dedicated holding tanks at five locations across the airport to enhance the airport’s used cooking oil collection and management system.
Often called a closed-loop system or circular economy, DFW Airport’s used cooking oil is now being upcycled to create low-emission renewable fuels that can immediately replace fossil fuels, thus utilizing renewable fuels to fight climate change.
Once Mahoney Environmental removes impurities from the used cooking oil, it enters Neste’s supply chain. The used cooking oil will be transported to one of Neste’s renewable product facilities to be converted into renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel and other renewable products. The renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel are then distributed globally, comprising nearly 30 percent of Neste’s total renewables volumes coming back into North America each year. Over the last five years, Neste’s renewable products have enabled businesses and cities to prevent nearly 40 million tons of CO2 equivalent from entering the atmosphere.
DFW Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world and illustrates the immense potential of collecting and using waste to help fuel society’s transport system. A conservative estimate puts the volume of used cooking oil generated by the largest 25 airports in North America at 9,600,000 pounds per year — enough waste to generate nearly 1 million gallons of advanced biofuels and, ultimately, prevent more than 7,831 metric tons of CO2 equivalent from entering the atmosphere.