Lambert-St. Louis International Airport has begun a pilot food waste recycling program that will convert food leftovers from several restaurants into high-grade agricultural compost for use on farms and gardens.

Lambert is partnering with food and beverage concessionaire HMSHost on the three-month pilot program which has been funded by a grant from the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District (SWMD) and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). These agencies assist public, private and non-profit entities to expand recycling programs in the region.

“The sheer number of airport users who will see food waste composting in action will also have a big impact on raising awareness of recycling,” said David Berger, Executive Director for SWMD. “We’re happy to see the Airport serve as a model for other institutions.”

The four restaurants participating in the pilot program account for 30 percent of the Airport’s food and beverage operations: Beers of the World- Concourse A; Pasta House-Terminal 1; Brioche Dorée/HMSHost production kitchen-Terminal 1; and Chili’s Too- Terminal 2. The goal is to divert as much food waste from landfill facilities as possible. Pre-consumer waste and customer leftovers will be collected by Blue Sky Recycling and processed by St. Louis Composting. The compost will be sold as soil additives for farms and gardens.  

The food waste recycling grant helps to cover initial startup costs for employee training and collection equipment. Lambert anticipates positive results from the pilot program will allow the Airport to expand food waste recycling beyond this year.The food waste recycling program contributes to the Airport’s waste minimization goals outlined in Lambert’s Environmental Management System (EMS). Lambert’s EMS sustainability strategies also include reduction of energy use, utilization of alternative fuels, increase in solid waste recycling and water conservation.