Dog bowls, recycled deicer, donated luggage: Sustainability efforts at DIA


Denver International Airport

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DENVER — Places that attract lots of people such as sporting venues, hospitals and airports are some of the top contributors of plastic waste in the country.

But Denver International Airport remains focused on being different by continuously looking at ways to be more environmentally friendly, officials say.

One of the popular initiatives at DIA involves something a lot of Coloradans enjoy — four-legged friends.

“I always look for pet relief,” traveler Annie Church said. “She comes with me everywhere I go.”

An airport pet relief area came in handy for Church's dog, Patchouli, while she was traveling over the holiday season from Virginia to Colorado.

The relief areas are a part of DIA’s sustainability mission.

The airport uses animal water bowls designed to cut back on waste.

The biodegradable bowls are manufactured by Vernacare, a company in England. The company uses paper pulp from newsprint combined with beeswax resin to make the bowls.

Vernacare is exclusively distributed in the US by MAC Medical.

The airport buys 24 cases of the bowls every year.

“We certainly go through those,” DIA spokeswoman Emily Williams said. “We know that it’s an amenity that passengers enjoy, and we think it’s a great thing that we can offer.”

The pet water bowls biodegrade in six weeks, while plastic takes more than 450 years to decompose, according to Vernacare.

The bowls are just the start. The airport composts all of its used paper towels from restrooms, donates abandoned luggage to people in need, donates unused food and recycles the deicing fluid used on the airfield.

That used fluid is turned into windshield wiper fluid.

Much of what’s done at the airport is not seen the traveling public.

The United Nations says the world population will be so large by 2050 that three planets will be required to sustain current lifestyles.

That prospect points to the need for more sustainability on a global scale.

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