The aviation industry has a reputation for being a major polluter. Using primary data obtained directly from BAA this paper examines the ways in which BAA (formerly the British Airports Authority) has improved efficiency in the management of airport waste. The paper also considers why, despite these improvements, UK airports still lag behind some European airports in terms of environmental management. The paper concludes that the UK government needs to take a more pro-active role in promoting a more co-ordinated approach to environmental strategy across the industry. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.