Environmental work at Malmö Airport
Malmö Airport works to minimise the negative environmental impact of operations. Like Swedavia’s other facilities, we are one of the world’s most climate-smart airports, and we are always taking new steps to be even better. At the end of 2020, Swedavia achieved its goal of zero fossil carbon dioxide emissions from airport operations run under its own management.
Malmö Airport's mission is to meet the needs for flights and goods transport among the residents and businesses in the region. Malmö Airport works in a number of areas to minimise the negative environmental impact of its operations. One of its focus areas is reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
Climate change is a key issue for the development of civil aviation. Swedavia works with forceful measures to reduce its own emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases – work that has produced significant results.
Our zero vision
In 2020, Swedavia achieved the company’s goal of no fossil carbon dioxide emissions from airport operations run under our own management.
Extensive work underpins our success in achieving zero fossil carbon dioxide emissions. We purchase green electricity for all our operations, the back-up power supply runs on hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), our vehicle fleet runs on HVO, fossil-free gas or green electricity, and we purchase liquefied petroleum gas (biogasol) and biogas.
Read more about our zero vision work, what else we do and what you can do to contribute to the transition to net-zero aviation.
Expanded climate work
All of Swedavia’s airports are accredited at the ACA 3+ level in accordance with Airport Council International (ACI) Europe’s standards for the climate work of airports. That means our airports continuously reduce fossil carbon dioxide emissions from their own operations, offset the emissions that have not yet been reduced and help other businesses operating at the airports to reduce their emissions. At the end of 2020, we achieved our fossil carbon dioxide emissions goal for airport operations run under our own management.
The next goal is to have all the airports accredited at the ACA 4+ level, which means that compounds to de-ice runways/aircraft and coolants will be included in the measurements. We will also work to a greater extent to engage and work together with other companies and organisations that have significant carbon dioxide emissions at the airports in order to continue reducing emissions together. Over time, all the operations at our airports will switch to renewable energy sources. This work is in line with the International Panel on Climate Change’s goal not to exceed a 1.5 C degree rise in global warming as well as Swedavia’s strategy and goals for proactive climate change adaptation.
In November 2013, the Land and Environmental Court at Sweden’s Svea Court of Appeal approved Swedavia’s application for a new environmental permit for Malmö Airport.
The change sought by Swedavia mainly involved the possibility of carrying out refurbishments and additions to facilities in the airport area and allocating aircraft movements over a 24-hour period, which means the continued development of Malmö Airport’s operations for a long while.
The number of aircraft movements allowed is unchanged compared to the previous permit – a total of 77,000 aircraft movements are allowed, 40,000 with heavy aircraft.
Environmental impact and policy
It is therefore important to continually strive to mitigate the negative environmental impact from the airport, primarily by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing other atmospheric emissions and discharges to water, and minimising the use of chemicals and the generation of waste.
For us, it is a matter of course to comply with environmental laws in force as well as other national and international regulations and requirements. Swedavia, which operates the airport, also works to limit aviation noise and emissions from airport operations. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to work based on the following strategies.
- Concern for the environment shall be an integral part of all operations and be a factor in decisions.
- Climate change is the most important environmental issue for the aviation industry and shall be given priority in all decisions and activities.
- Swedavia shall continually make operations more energy-efficient and guide operations towards sustainable resource use.
- Swedavia’s employees shall all be involved in the company’s environmental work and be very familiar with relevant laws.
- Swedavia shall assess and manage the environmental risks of operations in a systematic way.
- Swedavia shall take an active part in local, regional, national and international efforts aimed at reducing the negative environmental impact of the aviation industry and work for the sustainable development of its airports.
Landing does not require a lot of engine revs, but it nonetheless creates loud noise on the ground during the last phase of the approach because the aircraft is at such a low altitude.
Swedavia has implemented a pricing system whereby it is cheaper for airlines to use modern, quiet aircraft than older, noisier ones. Internationally, work is continuously ongoing to reduce aviation noise. For example, the noisiest aircraft are no longer allowed to use airports within the EU. This has persuaded airlines to replace ageing aircraft with modern, quiet alternatives.
The flight paths to and from the airport are determined in the environmental permit so noise generated by the aircraft will create as little disturbance as possible. Flight path follow-ups take place on a continual basis and are reported quarterly via the County Administrative Board of Skåne, which is the permit-issuing authority.
Every airport has terms and conditions relating to operational noise. For Malmö Airport this means that housing located closest to the most affected areas is given additional noise insulation.
A large proportion of all the waste generated constitutes a resource that can be reused, recycled or recovered via energy generation. Hazardous waste is handled separately to ensure that dangerous substances are not spread.
In the terminal building, passengers sort their waste into four categories: newspapers, aluminium cans, PET bottles and combustible waste.
The biggest discharges to the air around Malmö Airport currently come from aircraft and from vehicular traffic to and from the airport.
In order to encourage the airlines to use modern aircraft that are easier on the environment, Swedavia has introduced a sliding pricing scheme whereby take-off fees at Swedavia-operated airports vary depending on how clean the aircraft's engines are.
Swedavia is also working on the improvement of public transport to and from the airport.
Heating of the buildings takes place with on-site-produced district heating whereby solar heating, pellets and biofuel are combined for optimal operation without emissions of fossil carbon dioxide.
In order to reduce emissions of fossil carbon dioxide at the airport, a boiler system running on pellets and biofuel was built in 2007. The biofuel facility is operated in combination with a solar heating system, as a result of which Malmö Airport reduced its CO2 emissions by more than 90% between 2005 and 2014. As of 2006 we sell and use only green electricity.
In order to compensate for carbon dioxide emissions that have not yet been able to be deleted, Swedavia purchases emissions certificates from projects in developing countries. These certificates guarantee that a corresponding emission reduction will take place within these projects and within the framework of the UN's climate programme, thus securing climate-neutrality. Right now we have chosen to work with Tricorona in these compensation projects. Over the next few years this means windpower stations in China and a biomass power plant in India.
The climate issue is of central importance to civil aviation's development, and Swedavia focuses strongly on reducing its own emissions of substances such as carbon dioxide. It's a process that has delivered significant results. Swedavia is continuing this work and aims to reach zero emissions by 2020.
The facility at the airport consists of a solar heating unit and a boiler system. The boiler system consists of four boilers. The two main boilers, each with a 2.5 MW capacity, use fuel in the form of pellets. The 4 MW backup and peak-load boiler uses biofuel in the form of vegetable oil or EO1. In 2013, a small boiler of 500 kW will be installed. It will be used mainly during the summer along with the solar heating unit.
During most of the year, heat is also supplied by the solar heating system. This delivers up to about 300 kW and consists of 5,600 vacuum tubes. The airport chose vacuum tubes for two reasons. Firstly because they produce more heat than a corresponding area of flat solar panels, and secondly because they meet the airport’s safety requirements: the vacuum tubes do not produce reflections that might distract aircraft in operation.
The heat produced is delivered via the internal district-heating infrastructure that covers the entire airport. It is then used to provide hot water and central heating at each respective building throughout the airport.
The facility has been partly financed through grants from the Environmental Protection Agency and the County Administrative Board/National Board of Housing, Building and Planning. The Environmental Protection Agency regarded this project as worthy of the Golden Nugget award and accordingly provided an investment grant of 6 million kronor for its implementation. The County Administrative Board/National Board of Housing, Building and Planning provided investment support to the tune of 3.4 million kronor.
The biofuel unit came on stream in 2007 and the solar heating system started operating in autumn 2008. In 2011 the facility supplied about 220 MWh to the internal district-heating network, corresponding to the energy consumption of 15 normal-size villas.
The project started in 2007 with the aim of identifying and evaluating a method whereby bees and their products could be used as indicators of air quality. In 2009 an initial series of analyses was conducted on honey and beeswax from three different locations. One set of samples was taken from Malmö Airport and two reference samples were taken from Staffanstorp and Skoghem near Gårdstånga. The aim of the analyses was to see if there are any differences between the samples taken from Malmö Airport and the reference sites, and also to compare the results from a consumer perspective.
Substances such as heavy metals, volatile organic hydrocarbons (BTEX) and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were analysed. Emissions of these substances can occur during combustion of aviation or vehicle fuels and in the various day-to-day operations at Malmö Airport (such as when handling fuel, resurfacing roads and runways, handling solvents or in the cleaning and cooling systems).
Analysis of the BTEX, HMF and heavy metal results showed that from the consumer perspective, all the figures were below the set EU limits. In many cases, the concentration was so low that the substances could not even be detected. When the samples from Malmö Airport and the two reference sites were compared, the results indicated some cases of higher concentration at the airport while other concentrations were lower. Of the analyses conducted thus far on the honey and beeswax, it is not possible to draw any conclusions as to whether and if so in what way Malmö Airport affects local air quality.
Since bees range over a large area, often a radius of up to four kilometres, bee and honey samples are regarded as accurately representative of local environmental conditions.
Aircraft are de-iced using propylene glycol. The runways are primarily cleared by mechanical means – with snow-ploughs, rotating sweepers, snow-blowers and gritters. If this is not sufficient, potassium acetate is used. Urea too is used for de-icing for reasons of aviation safety in particularly difficult weather conditions. These substances have low toxic levels, are easily biodegraded in nature but have a high oxygen consumption rate during their breakdown. They may therefore cause oxygen deficiency in watercourses and in the water table if there are large-scale discharges.
The glycol that remains on the soil when an aircraft is de-iced is collected and emptied into a leak-proof pond, from where it is sent to the Svedala treatment plant where it is used as a carbon source in its filtration processes.
The storm-water from the airport apron is processed in an aerated holding pond located near the approach road to the aircraft. In this aerated pond, any residual acetate and glycol are broken down to avoid oxygen deficiency in creeks and brooks downstream from the airport. The holding pond also serves as a settling tank for particulate-rich heavy metals and as an oil trap.
Environmental management system
On March 1, 2006, Malmö Airport was certified for its environmental performance under ISO 14001:2004. This certification indicates that the airport has not only complied with the requirements of environmental agencies but also with the general and specific environmental goals set for Malmö Airport.
Both internal and external environmental audits are carried out at the airport. The aim of these is to check whether the environmental management system is used, is sufficient and is effective. There is continuous improvement work under way, with increasingly stringent requirements, which means environmental goals are also raised every year. Airport management monitors this environmental work in its management review two times a year.
In May 2012, all of Swedavia was certified for its environment performance through its Group-wide environmental management system under ISO 14001.
Malmö Airport monitors the environmental impact of its operations through extensive sampling and measurement programmes, the results of which are reported to the County Board Administration.
If you would like to read more about the airport’s environmental work, you can read the airport’s annual environmental report (in Swedish), which you will access using the link below.
The Webtrak tool that we previously made available here on our website is being reviewed, and we are exploring the possibilities of using other data sources. This is in order to once again enable people living in the vicinity of our airports to track air traffic movements. It will also be possible to connect this information to aviation noise measurements where available.
The grasslands around the runway at the airport cover about 160 hectares and are adjacent to the Häckeberga conservation area. The groups of species investigated included beetles, aculeates (insects with stingers), butterflies and vascular plants, that is, plants with lignified tissues such as herbaceous plants, bushes and trees.
Great variation in both plants and insects
The results show that there is great variation in the composition of both plant and insect species. There is also what is known as an indicator species, a species that is useful for identifying and distinguishing areas with a high level of natural assets, which lives in the grasslands that abound with flowers in the airport area.
A total of seven species of insects were found that are included on the European Red List of threatened species, that is, species that are threatened with or risk extinction, as well as one plant species, slender sandwort.
Many species and habitats have a significant nature value
Four habitats have been identified as areas of significant nature value, that is, which are important for biological diversity. Four species were put forward as species of value to natural conservation since they have some nature value connected to the airport’s grasslands.
The species of value to nature are the listed black-headed mason wasp, the solitary West Palaearctic ground-nesting bee Melitta leporina, the moss carder bee and the narrow-bordered five-spot burnet, a moth.
Good potential to enhance the area’s high nature values
- There are some open lands without ground-covering vegetation which are often disturbed by human activities, what are known as ruderal environments, that provide interesting vegetation and different habitats for certain insects.
- Grasslands are generally bountiful to be considered grassland, but parts of these lands are semi-arid, with an abundance of species that live in dry habitats.
- The large area of grasslands covering 160 hectares at the airport is an important source of flowers for many insects.
The surveys carried out in 2014 have generated useful data about the different types of biotopes (habitats to which certain plant or animal communities belong) and species and for determining what suitable measures are needed to promote and develop these species.
The conclusion drawn from the field surveys and the discussion with field staff is that there is good potential to promote and enhance the high nature value of species and habitats found at Malmö Airport by modifying operations.