What Happens to Liquid the TSA Confiscates?

July 23rd, 2012 by The JetSetter Team | Comments Off on What Happens to Liquid the TSA Confiscates?

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Voila, TSA has a mountain of liquid materials to dispose of every day. Where does it all go? We were wondering that ourselves. Luckily the enterprising reporters at Forbes saved us the effort of doing our own research. Here’s the short answer in case it ever comes up on Trivial Pursuit.
Keep in mind that liquids confiscated at the airport are immediately considered hazardous material, so you can’t flush them down the toilet or donate them to the nearest goodwill. All that sunscreen, etc. has got to be disposed of properly.

1. First of all, everything is sorted by type and dumped into large blue hazmat barrels with metal seals. A waste management company called Clean Harbors handles the refuse from most major airports. Water-based solutions head to a waste water treatment facility.

2. Alcohol gets special treatment since it is potentially flammable. Clean Harbors delivers these barrels to a fuel-blending facility, so that high dollar scotch you “accidentally” left in your flight bag and hoped no one would notice might end up providing the power to make cement or any of a variety of other uses.

Recycling of the little plastic bottles? Maybe. If there are enough of them to make it worthwhile. Otherwise it all ends up in the local landfill along with the rest of the ordinary trash. Need the lowdown on how to transport liquids? Here’s the skinny from the TSA website.

TSA and our security partners conducted extensive explosives testing since August 10, 2006 and determined that liquids, aerosols and gels, in limited quantities, are safe to bring aboard an aircraft. The one bag limit per traveler limits the total amount each traveler can bring. Consolidating the bottles into one bag and X-raying them separately from the carry-on bag enables security officers to quickly clear the items.


for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume

each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.

Be prepared. Each time TSA searches a carry-on it slows down the line. Practicing 3-1-1 will ensure a faster and easier checkpoint experience.
3-1-1 is for short trips. If in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage.

Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. Officers may need to open these items to conduct additional screening.

The Jetsetter Show Team





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