Our environmental responsibility
Göteborg Landvetter 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.
Environmental issues are of utmost importance to Göteborg Landvetter Airport and something that we have worked on with great determination for many years. Swedavia shall be a driver in the sustainable development of society and guide operations in this direction with the help of a number of concrete goals.
Swedavia is an international role model in developing climate-smart airports. Göteborg Landvetter Airport has long worked actively to decrease carbon dioxide emissions from airport operations. At the end of 2020, the airport achieved its goal of zero fossil carbon dioxide emissions from airport operations run under its own management. We are proud of this. The airport is certified at the highest level based on an international standard for its work to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Active work is also under way in many other areas to reduce the airport’s environmental impact. More information about this is available under the heading "Environmental impact and policy".
Do you have questions about the environmental work at Göteborg Landvetter? Feel free to send us an e-mail.
The authority that issues permits is the Land and Environmental Court. Various detailed conditions formulated by the Court are often attached to the permit. The conditions are mandatory and may result in legal action if they are not fulfilled.
Large-scale changes in operations that are not covered by the permit in effect, or that do not fulfil or correspond to the conditions in effect, require a review of the permit or a review of individual conditions. Smaller changes covered by the permit must be reported to the so-called regulatory authority. The County Administrative Board has oversight responsibilities for the airport based on the requirements in the Swedish Environmental Code. Examples of changes that require reporting are replacement of solid fuel boilers, changes in chemical management or changes in a de-icing area.
The Land and Environmental Court’s decision can be appealed in the Land and Environmental Court of Appeal at the Svea Court of Appeal, which is the court of last resort for cases that originate with the County Administrative Board. The Swedish Supreme Court is the court of last resort for cases that originate in the Land and Environmental Court.
Airports are subject to permits from two different authorities, one from the Swedish Transport Agency and one from the Land and Environmental Court. The Swedish Transport Agency has overall responsibility for civil aviation in Sweden and is tasked with promoting safe, cost-efficient and environmentally-safe civil aviation.
The Land and Environmental Court is responsible for ensuring that airport operations are designed to comply with environmental laws in effect. A balanced assessment is made taking in account various interests in society and the intentions of the Swedish Environmental Code. Airport operations may thus not be carried out if one of these permits is missing.
Landvetter introduces new environmental permit
On January 1, 2021, Göteborg Landvetter Airport started using the new environmental permit it obtained in 2016. The airport thus has a more modern permit which allows smarter approach paths and covers the need for air travel in the years ahead.
Do you have questions about the environmental work at Göteborg Landvetter? Feel free to send us an e-mail. E-mail: email@example.com
Read more here
Questions and answers about the environmental permit (in Swedish)
Application for a new environmental permit (in Swedish)
Land and Environmental Court’s ruling, June 17, 2015 – PDF (in Swedish)
Svea Court of Appeal’s ruling, April 28, 2016 – PDF (in Swedish)
It is a matter of course that the airport complies with environmental laws in force as well as other national and international regulations and requirements. Swedavia, which operates the airport, shall also work 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 well informed about 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.
Read more here
Environmental report 2021, PDF (in Swedish)
Appendix 1: Wastewater control (in Swedish)
Appendix 2: Run-off and surface water control (in Swedish)
Appendix 3: Diatom survey (in Swedish)
NoiseWasteCarbon dioxide emissionsAirSoil and waterPFOS chemicals
A great deal is being done to decrease noise as much as possible
Despite the increase in air traffic, increasingly fewer people are exposed to sound levels exceeding Sweden’s national noise levels. In1989, 60,000 Swedes were exposed to aviation noise. Today that figure has been reduced to 20,000 – compare that to the 400,000 Swedes disturbed by rail traffic and 1,600,000 Swedes disturbed by road traffic. One explanation for the sharp decrease in aviation noise is that aircraft engines are increasingly quieter, a development encouraged by Swedavia.
Cooperation with neighbours is a key element
Working together with neighbours and local authorities is important and has led to construction planning and handling of building permits being carried out based on forecast noise curves. We conduct regular noise calculations and measurements to ensure that we fall within the scope of the airport’s environmental permit. We maintain an ongoing dialogue with our neighbours, and surveys show that the environmental issue given highest priority is climate change, followed by noise. There are conditions in the airport’s environmental permit specifying that homes exposed to the greatest aviation noise must be insulated.
One important measure to reduce aviation noise and atmospheric emissions is the continued work to develop the possibility of curved and green approaches at our airports. Using the new flight path system and curved approaches provides more opportunities to avoid flying over densely populated areas. Green approaches reduce noise och carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft. To promote the switch to more modern aircraft, take-off charges are lower for quieter aircraft.
Waste management at Göteborg Landvetter Airport
At Göteborg Landvetter Airport, all waste is sorted. A large part of all waste generated at the airport is a resource that can be reused, recycled or converted in energy recovery.
All waste from Swedavia’s facilities is sorted. However, the amount of household waste is growing due to the increased sale of take-away food. This waste is divided into four categories: waste for recycling, for energy recovery, landfill waste and hazardous waste. Our goal is for the share of landfill waste to decrease with a corresponding increase in the share of waste for recycling. At the airport, there is a waste and recycling station, waste sorting sites, a compost facility and a facility for handling hazardous waste.
Our zero vision
There is extensive work behind our success in achieving zero fossil carbon dioxide emissions. We purchase green electricity for all of our operations, our uninterruptible power supply runs on hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), our vehicle fleet runs on HVO, fossil-free gas or green electricity, and we purchase biogasol and biogas.
Read more about our work with our zero emissions goal, what else we do and what you can do to contribute to aviation’s transition to net zero operations.
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 goal of zero fossil carbon dioxide emissions for the 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 agents for de-icing runways/aircraft and coolants will be included in the measurements. We shall 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 Intergovernmental 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.
Local atmospheric emissions
Emissions from air traffic
Aircraft engines produce the same kinds of emissions generated in the combustion of all fossil fuels: carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, soot, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. Sometimes the air at the airport may smell strongly of jet kerosene. What makes it smell like kerosene is sulphur compounds, known as mercaptans, which have a penetrating, intense and characteristic smell in very small concentrations. Sulphur compounds belong to the same group of substances that create odour problems in conjunction with paper pulp production (using the sulphate process). Mercaptans are not toxic in the low concentrations found at the airport.
Swedavia works to shorten flight paths, which reduces fuel consumption and thus also atmospheric emissions. As for Swedavia’s own operations at Göteborg Landvetter Airport, there is always continuous improvement work being carried out.
Modern planes with lower emissions given preference
One way to reduce atmospheric emissions from air traffic is for Göteborg Landvetter Airport to encourage airlines to use modern aircraft that are better for the environment – take-off charges are lower the less nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons an aircraft’s engines emit. The aim is to motivate airlines with older planes with old engines to switch to modern planes with cleaner engines.
The aircraft’s whirlwinds are not fuel dumping
All aircraft leave whirlwinds in their wake. When the weather is humid, the whirlwinds are visible since condensation is formed from water steam in the air. It may sometimes look like the aircraft is releasing fuel as it lands.
Aircraft very rarely dump fuel and only in an emergency, when a fully fuelled plane needs to make an emergency landing. Only the largest aircraft have the ability to dump fuel. If fuel needs to be dumped, this should take place over water and at an altitude high enough to enable the fuel to be converted into steam before it reaches the earth.
Survey of moss and lichen flora in Härryda
Measurements of air pollutants have been taken at Göteborg Landvetter Airport since 1992. At a number of test sites in Härryda, moss and lichen flora have been studied in order to follow the effects of airborne pollutants and the airport’s potential impact on the surroundings.
The results from the latest survey show, among other things, that in terms of the air quality in the municipality of Härryda, the airport does not play a significant role but rather that the municipality is more greatly affected by major roads, densely populated areas and other factors when it comes to the atmospheric deposition of sulphur and nitrogen.
Soil and water
Most discharges to water take place in the winter, when aircraft are de-iced and runways are treated to prevent skidding. Aircraft are de-iced with glycol, while formiate is used on the runways. Göteborg Landvetter Airport has an extensive glycol management system that is connected to surface water ponds to minimise discharges into the surroundings.
The glycol system is constructed so that run-off is sorted into glycol with a high concentration (more than five per cent) and low concentration (less than five per cent). The high-concentration is conveyed to the airport’s own facility where it is heated to produce a liquid with 50% glycol. The liquid is sent to a recycling facility where up to 99.5% pure glycol is produced. The recycled glycol can be mixed with new de-icing fluid for airports or used as a component in other glycol-based products. This is a great environmental benefit since it reduces the need for fossil materials.
The low-concentration glycol is conveyed via an oil separator to the airport’s treatment facility and its three surface water ponds. The function of these ponds is mainly to process organic material, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and heavy metals in the water. Since glycol consumes oxygen when it breaks down, pumps are used to provide oxygen.
There are regular checks of the water in accordance with a water control programme.
Perfluorinated substances have been used for about 50 years in surface finishes of textiles, cleaning agents, kitchen utensils and firefighting agents as well as to coat food packaging, for example.
PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) is one of the most widely known substances and has been used for firefighting foam, among other things. In recent years, it has been found that PFOS can be harmful to animals. There may also be a risk of it being harmful to humans, although no such harm has been identified so far. We all have some level of PFOS in us from the food we eat and sometimes from different chemical products that enter our system in a different way. PFOS can therefore be measured, for example, in our blood.
Elevated concentrations of PFOS have been identified in water and fish from West Ingsjö Lake and in water from East Ingsjö Lake. There is a high probability that this can be connected to the firefighting exercise site at Göteborg Landvetter Airport, where firefighting foam containing PFOS was used in the 1990s for firefighting exercises. The firefighting pond has now been emptied and decontaminated, but since PFOS breaks down slowly, there can still be elevated concentrations in the environment and in fish.
PFOS research project
A research project on PFOS in the environment was conducted over a five-year period. The RE-PATH project is aimed at investigating and mapping the presence, spread and risks of PFOS to people and the environment and at exploring potential measures for perfluorinated substances around Göteborg Landvetter Airport and elsewhere. The project is funded by Swedavia and the Swedish Environmental Agency and is being conducted by IVL, Svenska Miljöinstitutet AB.
It has been concluded from the project that adults can eat fish caught in West Ingsjö Lake up to 7 times a month without exceeding the established benchmark level. Following the precautionary principle, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding are advised not to eat fish from the lake.
Annual report for the research project (in Swedish)
At the request of Göteborg Landvetter Airport and the environmental management organisations in the municipalities of Härryda and Mölndal, VMC (Västra Götalandsregionens Miljömedicinska Centrum), a unit at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, investigated whether PFOS in fish led to a measurable increase in concentration in the blood serum of nearby residents who eat a lot of fish from the lakes in question.
Comparisons were also made with control groups of people from different areas as well as of people living in the same areas who have not eaten such fish. An assessment was also made of the risks of any effect on people’s health.
The conclusion was that there was no such risk, and two reasons were given. First, the people studied had lower intakes of PFOS than the EU considers to be a risk-free level. Second, the people in the study have much lower levels than groups who, for example, are or have been exposed to PFOS in their work without it having been possible to determine that there was any effect on their health.
Measures at the airport
Since 2008, the airport has treated the most contaminated groundwater at its firefighting exercise site. In 2010, a permanent facility was set up to prevent the further spread of PFOS from the airport. Surface water and shallow groundwater that pass through the contaminated area are collected in a lined trench and conveyed to two reinforced ponds for further treatment in a carbon filter facility intended to clean water contaminated with PFOS. In 2017 the carbon filter facility was expanded so that it consists of a series of carbon filter columns for more effective treatment. After the water is cleaned, it is conveyed to the airport’s surface water ponds.
In 2011, all firefighting vehicles at the airport were decontaminated. After the decontamination work was completed, a new fluorine-free firefighting foam was introduced, Moussol 3/6-FF, in firefighting vehicles. The new foam forms carbon dioxide and water when it is broken down.
National Swedish PFOS regulations entered into force on June 27, 2008. The new regulations entail a ban on the use of PFOS and on substances that can be broken down into PFOS in chemical products and goods. There are some exceptions, which are not limited in time, for certain applications in the photolithography and photography industry, in chrome plating and in hydraulic fluids for aviation. Since 2011, firefighting foam that is free from fluorinated substances is used at Swedavia’s airports.
Flight path system
The flight path system, which the airport was given the green light for in Environmental Ruling M 118-01, allows environmentally smarter approaches when aircraft land, with less engine thrust. That in turn produces less noise for people living in the vicinity and lower carbon dioxide emissions.
In brief, the flight path system allows landing aircraft to navigate along more advanced routes. Paths have smarter routing relative to built-up areas and are designed as a sloping plane. Aircraft thus fly at a higher altitude for a longer period and have a more fuel-efficient landing approach.
This is a radical difference compared to more traditional flight paths, which were developed using older airway beacons. With its new technology and new flight paths, the airport is well equipped to safely and efficiently meet the requirements from the surrounding area to reduce the environmental impact.
Air traffic controller and pilot plan approach together
Since the aircraft’s computer is in continuous contact with equipment on the ground, the entire flight is adjusted to the exact landing time. It also means that the air traffic controller and pilot together plan a stabilised approach – the aircraft glides instead of descending stepwise, as is currently the case. This kind of approach is estimated to save an average of 150 kg of fuel and 450 kg of carbon dioxide emissions per flight. These environmentally smart approaches also mean that noise is reduced in the vicinity of the airport since the aircraft does not need to use jet thrust at lower altitudes.
Complex procedure to plan flight paths
Planning environmentally smart flight paths is a complex procedure. There are many factors to take into account, which can in fact be contradictory – something that reduces noise can increase emissions. Other factors to keep in mind are, of course, maintaining safety and minimising the number of people affected. When flight paths are created, the airport wants to subject as few people as possible to noise but also find the shortest path possible to keep emissions down. The new flight path system has created an opportunity to take everyone involved into consideration.
The Green Flights project involves, among other aspects, green approaches, green take-offs, green cruising och EcoFlying. The project was launched by the Swedish civil aviation administration (LFV)’s air traffic management in 2007. The focus is on activities related to air traffic management that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and noise during every phase of a flight.
Airports and airlines both play a major role, so they are therefore represented on the project’s project coordination committee and in the sub-project EcoFly.
- Green flights involve
- Green approach
- Green departure
- Green cruising
- Performance-based navigation (PBN) study “Green” business case
How I work for the environment
I work for clean waterways
Malin Klar is an environmental specialist at Göteborg Landvetter Airport.
I work with water, which may not be something people initially associate with an airport. But because we have really large areas at an airport, a lot of water is collected here. My colleagues and I work to minimise the environmental impact that water can have both in the airport area but also when it continues to flow from there. We do this in part by treating surface water in our surface water ponds – three ponds covering a total of five hectares.
There are chemical residues containing organic material in the surface water from the airport which are produced when we de-ice aircraft and use anti-skid treatment on the landing runway. These organic compounds use oxygen when they break down. Oxygen is therefore added to the water in a natural way using aerators, which ensures that the water has good oxygen content when it leaves the area. This is done to avoid any negative impact on these natural waterways, where all living organisms need oxygen.
We see things happening in our ponds, how compounds are broken down, how water leaving the ponds has a lower concentration of metals, and how the oxygen level is raised. That absolutely has an impact.
A lot of my work involves monitoring what we do. We continually measure what the water quality is like, in the water entering the ponds and the water leaving them, but also in a number of other waterways at the airport and in the vicinity. Water samples are taken downstream from the area and from waterways not affected by the airport’s surface water in order to have a reference point in assessing water quality.
My job is really fun and varied. Since the environment is an integral part of all of Swedavia’s operations, my colleagues and I handle a lot of different issues. Given the cooperation between different departments and their involvement in different processes, I am always learning new things and can find more measures to improve our environmental performance.
I work for sustainable aviation
In my job as environmental manager at Göteborg Landvetter Airport, it is my responsibility to make sure we reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions at the airport. Furthermore, we work with other operators – airlines, ground handling companies and other technical experts in the industry – to reduce the overall environmental impact of aviation. We are part of an industry that must work together to achieve the climate strategy goals set by the industry, including cutting fossil carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2050. Swedavia’s interim goal in this journey has been to be independent of fossil fuels in its own operations by year-end 2020.
In concrete terms, this can involve being more efficient when a plane is on the ground, for example, having an electrical connection instead of a diesel generator for aircraft when they are parked. It can also involve creating more efficient and shorter flight routes and introducing a speed limit to promote a form of eco-driving for aircraft. That in turn generates fewer emissions and uses less fuel.
If we want to continue to have economic growth in our part of the world, have the goods and services we want brought here and be able to export the goods and services we can contribute, then as things stand we are dependent on efficient air traffic. This is the sustainability principle we must work by – we have an impact and we must reduce this. At the same time, we must contribute so that other values such as employment, income for the tourism industry and business world, and social development can continue to develop.
In a broader perspective, it is incredibly important that we are part of collective, global air transport.
Sweden has a high profile when it comes to environmental issues in general, both internationally and nationally. As a State-owned company, we must ensure – as part of our mission – that we actually are a world leader on environmental and sustainability issues too. And driving this issue and showing how it’s done – that’s a lot of fun!
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.
Did you know?
Aviation accounts for 2-3% of the world’s fossil carbon dioxide emissions
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that air traffic today accounts for around 2-3% of global carbon dioxide emissions.
The aviation industry shall cut its emissions in half by 2050
Aviation was the first global industry to agree on a long-term sector-wide environmental goal: to reduce fossil carbon dioxide emissions from aviation by 1.5 per cent per passage-kilometre annually by 2020. After that, emissions are not allowed to increase even if traffic increases. Actual fossil carbon dioxide emissions in 2050 shall be half the level compared to 2005.
In 50 years, aviation has become 80% more fuel-efficient.
New aircraft today are 80% more fuel-efficient than 50 years ago and 75% quieter.
The most modern aircraft today use about 3 litres of fuel per 100 passenger- kilometres.
Source: ICAO, Airbus, Boeing and others
Aviation creates jobs
Swedish aviation contributes more than 130 billion kronor to Sweden’s GDP each year. The aviation industry creates around 80,000 jobs in Sweden. For every additional million passengers, more than 850 direct jobs are created. Even more jobs are created indirectly.
More than 25 per cent of international visitors in Sweden arrive by air at Swedish airports. They spend more than 70 billion kronor a year, which creates more than 100,000 jobs.
Today, it is estimated that Göteborg Landvetter Airport adds about 7.7 billion kronor to the region’s economy.
Source: Oxford Economics, WSP
Speeding road traffic produces higher emissions than domestic air travel
Total emissions from all Swedish domestic air travel are about 500,000 tonnes a year. Total emissions on the ground from vehicles speeding on Swedish roads are about 700,000 tonnes a year. Total emissions on the ground from Swedish vehicles with the wrong tyre pressure are about 300,000 tonnes a year.
Source: Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Swedish Transport Administration
Aviation covers its own costs
Aviation pays for its infrastructure through revenue from its customers. Passengers cover the cost of Sweden’s air transport system, not taxes.
82% of seats are occupied
Aircraft capacity utilisation is 82%.
Directs routes help the environment
Flying non-stop saves fuel and emissions compared to flying with connecting flights.
Source: “The environmental cost implication of hub-hub versus hub bypass flight networks, Cranfield University” and other sources