Attention, Germophobes: Antimicrobial Bins Are Coming to Airport Checkpoints

May 21, 2019

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Traveling is a dirty, germy business.

For proof, read (if you dare) research results on the bacteria counts found on various surfaces on airplanes and in airports.

On airplanes, we’ve known that the germiest spots are headrests and seat pockets.

In airports, the worst offenders are the plastic trays used at security checkpoints.

It makes sense: People put their shoes, coats, loose change, carry-on bags and who knows what else into those checkpoint bins. And as you stand on the line, you see those bins get recycled through the line over and over.

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Now, just in time for summer travel, comes news that germ-fighting checkpoint trays are being rolled out at more than 30 US airports, including several of the nation’s busiest.

The new trays are treated with a strong antimicrobial substance that inhibits the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. Called SecureTrays, they are supplied by Florida-based SecurityPoint Media (SPM), the company that currently supplies airports with ad-emblazoned trays, with technology from North Carolina-based Microban International, a company that incorporates antimicrobial additives in a variety of consumer, industrial and medical products.

This file photo shows the new germ-fighting SecurTray. (Image courtesy of SecurityPointMedia)
This file photo shows the new germ-fighting SecurTray. (Image courtesy of SecurityPointMedia)

“Each tray has 100% antimicrobial protection,” said Joseph Ambrefe, CEO of SecurityPoint Media. “The additive is imbedded in the manufacturing of the tray as well as the substrate on each tray. And the antimicrobial protection will not wear off or fade away.”

At first glance, travelers may not notice if they’re putting their belongings into a germ-fighting security bin or into one of the old, germ-prone models. But the new SecureTray has a distinct shape, a Microban trust tag and the Microban logo molded into the bottom.

“For decades, our chemists and engineers have successfully developed antimicrobial solutions for high-traffic and hygiene-critical environments such as restaurants, hospitals and schools, and for high-touch surfaces in many different environments,” Michael Ruby, vice president of Microban, said in a statement. “We are confident the addition of Microban technology to SPM’s SecureTray will be well-received by airport operators and the general population alike.”

The new bins have been delivered to seven airports: Denver (DEN); Knoxville, Tennessee (TYS); Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP); Nashville, Tennessee (BNA); Tampa, Florida (TPA);  Washington Reagan National (DCA) and the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) near Bentonville.

Fifteen others are scheduled to get their antimicrobial bins by early July.

And while SecurityPoint Media is currently the only company working with Microban on providing germ-busting bins at US checkpoints, there is at least one other company working on this problem.

In 2017 NanoTouch Materials did a pilot project at Ohio’s Akron-Canton Airport, in partnership with a local hospital system.

“Our self-cleaning mats and handle wraps were used in all of their TSA security bins,” said company co-founder Mark Sisson, “And because they were visible and communicated what they did, they got a lot of notice from travelers. The TSA agents loved them.”

Sisson says TSA is currently testing a slightly redesigned version of the company’s self-cleaning NanoSeptic products and several airports are interested in using them.

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