Green Concessions Policy

On March 28, 2013, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) adopted a Green Concessions Policy and Guide to Green Concessions Operations. The Policy is among the first of its kind in the airport industry and is another example of how the CDA’s airports continue to serve as a benchmark for environmental stewardship.

The policy provides concessionaires at O'Hare and Midway Airports with guidance and standards for minimizing waste, enhancing recycling, generating demand for eco-friendly products and providing healthier foods for passengers and employees. All 129 concessionaires operating at O’Hare and 47 operating at Midway, as well as all new concessionaires, must adopt the Policy’s requirements to:​

  • Ban polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) for all disposable consumer packaging
  • Ban all petroleum-based plastic bags, including trash and take-out bags
  • Ban all petroleum-based plastic disposable consumer containers and utensils 
  • Source-separate all solid waste refuse into recyclables, compostables and refuse 
  • Procure only green cleaning and hygiene products as well as soaps 
  • Increase procurement of sustainable foods to a minimum of 20 percent of total costs by 2016 
  • Procure recycled content paper for printing uses that has a minimum recycled content of 100%
  • Donate surplus food to the greatest extent allowable by food safety regulations
  • Incorporate Sustainable Airport Manual© (SAM) guidance and achieve a ‘Green Airplane Rating’

CDA staff is conducting outreach and training for all concessionaires to ensure they are positioned to comply with the policy. The policy serves as an implementation tool to help achieve the CDA’s waste reduction goal of diverting at least 50 percent of waste from landfills. Implementation of the policy could prevent 8,000 tons of solid waste from being hauled to landfills per year through increased use of compostable and recyclable products and through increased donations of surplus food.

O'Hare’s Tortas Frontera restaurant won the “Best Fast Food/Quick Service Restaurant” award at the 2012 Moodie Food & Beverage Conference and landed a first place ranking on GQ Magazine’s list of the 10 Best Airport Restaurants in America.'