Malmö Airport works within several areas to minimise the environmental footprint caused by its operations. A reduction in carbon dioxide emissions is one of the areas in focus. Swedavia has a zero vision for its operational emissions at the airport.

 rapeseed flowers

Malmö Airport's mission is to meet passenger and freight requirements among the region's local community and business sector. In 2013, more than 2.12 million passengers used the airport.

Between 2005 and 2014, carbon dioxide emissions were cut by more than 90%.

Malmö Airport project for sorting waste at source

Throughout 2010, passengers have had facilities in the terminal for sorting waste generated from goods bought at the airport.

Solar heating facility at the airport

Malmö Airport was the first airport in Sweden to install a solar heating facility featuring vacuum tubes.

Honey-bees at the airport

Since 2007, Malmö Airport has worked to find a method whereby bees and their honey can be used as indicators of air quality.

Environmental permit

In order to operate an airport, a permit is required for basic operations and facilities.

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 time.

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

The environmental impact of aviation is of critical importance to the aviation industry and thus to the airport.

It is therefore important to continually strive to mitigate the negative environmental impact of our airports, primarily by reducing the emissions of climate-changing gases, reducing other emissions to the air and 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 using the following strategies.

  • Concern for the environment shall be an integral part of all operations and be a factor in our decisions.
  • Climate change is the most important environmental issue for the aviation industry, and shall be given priority in our decisions and activities.
  • Swedavia shall continually make our operations more energy efficient, and direct operations towards sustainable use of resources. 
  • Swedavia’s employees shall all be involved in the company’s environmental efforts, 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.
Aviation noise occurs when aircraft take off and land, during flyovers and during apron activities such as taxiing and engine testing. Noise on the ground is loudest during take-off since that is when the engine revs hardest.

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.

At Malmö Airport, Swedavia has a recycling centre open to all companies operating within the airport area, where they can deposit their waste.

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.

Swedavia, which owns and operates Malmö Airport, has been a climate-neutral company since 2006

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.

Here’s how the heating system works at Malmö Airport.

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.

At Malmö Airport there is a project in which bees are used to evaluate the quality of the air around the airport. The honey bee is regarded as a reliable indicator of chemical pollutants in the environment. The bee's products, such as honey and beeswax, store pollutants that can be subsequently analysed in the laboratory.

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.

Discharges to water take place primarily in the winter when the aircraft and runways are de-iced for aviation safety reasons.

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.

Nature conservation

Aviation, culture and nature exist side by side at Malmö Airport. The 2014 surveys of grass- and scrublands at the airport show that there is good potential to enhance the natural assets found here.

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.