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Coffee Drinkers Help Seattle Airport Stay Green

The next time you sip a latte at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), remember: you’re not only giving yourself a boost, you’re also invigorating thousands of shrubs and plants in the surrounding landscape. Every month the Port of Seattle, responsible for the airport, recycles 19,000 pounds of coffee grounds - enough in a year to fill a Boeing 777. The grounds create a rich dark compost that helps replace soil acids needed to keep plants healthy.

Many of the airport’s 29 million annual passengers and thousands of workers drink coffee from more than 55 specialty coffee shops, restaurants and lounges. Cedar Grove Composting in Maple Valley mixes the grounds with lawn cuttings and yard waste from homes in the city of SeaTac. To close the recycling loop, the port orders compost from Cedar Grove by the truckload for airport landscaping and to keep the grass growing and the dust down between the runways.

In addition to coffee grounds, the airport recycles such things as cooking oils, paper, plastics, cans, pallets, batteries and printer and copier cartridges.

Airport tenants and passengers can take credit for a large part of the program’s success. “We can provide the bins and receptacles for recycled items, but in the end, they make the choice whether to recycle or throw it in the trash,” said Doug Holbrook, manager of utilities and business development. From the passenger putting a used newspaper into the appropriate bin and other restaurants recycling of cooking oils, travelers and employees help keep the airport green.

Environmentally friendly actions also are common at the port’s seaport facilities. Since 1998, the seaport has used a 100 percent organic approach to landscaping at its 19 public access parks and other properties. In addition to planting only native non-invasive species and drought tolerant trees and shrubs, all grass clippings and trimmed branches are composted or mulched for future use. This helps to conserve water and reduce run-off.

The port asks consumers to help close the recycling loop by buying recycled materials. And to have another cup of coffee

(Pacific Highway South)
Seattle, WA 98158
(206) 433-5388
Port of Seattle
2711 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 728-3000

Photo Courtesy: Waterfront park - Port of Seattle