Going green: Sustainability initiatives at Pittsburgh Airport

by | Jun 6, 2023 | Airports, News, Travel Tech

Going green: Sustainability initiatives at Pittsburgh Airport


Achieving sustainability in airports will require a comprehensive approach encompassing a range of diverse initiatives. By adopting a multifaceted strategy, airports can pave the way for a more sustainable aviation industry.

Spurred on by partnerships, Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), is exploring a range of methods to actively to become more environmentally friendly.


Food waste to fertilizer

In a new partnership with local environmental firm Ecotone Renewables, PIT is adding a system to turn uneaten food into fertilizer. This comes under the airports’ xBridge innovation campaign promoting the development and testing of new technologies, processes and systems to positively impact revenues, operations, security, customer experience, and sustainability.

The fully automated and self-sufficient composting system, Zero Emissions Upcycling System (ZEUS) supercharges the composting of waste to approximately eight times faster than normal transforming it into high-grade fertilizer. Ecotone donates 10 per cent of its ‘Soil Sauce’ fertiliser to local community gardens in Pittsburgh and the remainder is sold to local farmers and home gardeners.


AI recycling bin: TrashBot

Another project faciliated by PT’s xBridge Innovation Centre is TrashBot. Working with CleanRobotics, PIT have announced a partnership to implement AI recycling bin TrashBot to assist with the airport’s waste management initiatives.

The smart bin will sort passenger waste and recyclables with 96 per cent accuracy. Using AI and robotics, TrashBot can identify and sort the item into its corresponding bin. Once full, the TrashBot will notify cleaning crews via an app.

This system reduces contamination and maximises recycling opportunities. Charles Yhap, CEO CleanRobotics said:

“TrashBot’s implementation at PIT Airport, and the work we do together, embodies how AI and robotics can transform waste management and sustainability practices within airports. We’re eager to see how TrashBot and associated waste data can support and advance PIT’s commitment to solving operational challenges through innovation.”

Soon, the TrashBot will promote education around the matter, providing a message directly relating to the item being binned. For example, if someone throws away a water bottle that still contains some liquid, TrashBot will explain that the leftover water needs to be drained before the bottle is recyclable.


Plans for on-site SAF production

PIT is also on the verge of revealing plans to produce SAF on-site.

At the IATA AGM in Istanbul, Christina Cassotis, CEO of Allegheny County Airport Authority, which oversees developments at the airport said:

“We have already established contracts with a couple of hydrogen production companies, leveraging our natural gas resources to facilitate hydrogen production […] Our goal is to accelerate the adoption of cleaner and greener fuels and actively contribute to addressing the pressing global need within the aviation industry.”

On timing, Cassotis explained:

“We are halfway through construction we expect to be opening in early 2025—I’m very pleased with how everything is going […] Despite the pandemic, we have held to that schedule.”

PIT exemplifies the recognition that mediating aviation’s impact on the environment requires a broad approach, tackling everything from fuel to food waste. Through its implementation of a diverse range of innovative sustainability measures, the airport is becoming a beacon within the industry.

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Article by Jess Brownlow