Brian Peteritas is a GOVERNING contributor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte Douglas International airport is one of the busiest in the nation and produces more than its fair share of garbage -- half a pound per person -- according to NPR. These days they are sending 70 percent less trash to the landfill thanks to a new program built on the backs of worms. Each day 12 housekeeping employees sort through the trash on a conveyor belt, picking out any recyclables, which are then sold for cash. Shirts and other clothing is also sorted, laundered and donated to local organizations. Finally the food scraps are composted in a large bin and then dropped into a 50-foot-long composting bin full of 1.9 million red wigglers. The worms eat the garbage and then poop it out as fertilizer, which is used on the airport's landscaping. The initial cost of the project was $1.2 million but the airport expects to actually be making money off its trash in just five years.