News / Food Waste

Pie in the sky and other airline food waste

Airlines generated 5.2m tonnes of waste in 2016, most of which went to landfill or incineration – and it cost them £400m. A lot of it was mini wine bottles, half-eaten lunch trays and plastic utensils, so it's good to learn that several airlines are taking steps to reduce their disastrous waste footprint.

As any alert flyer will have noticed, when a plane lands, huge volumes of 'disposable' items are thrown away. Matt Rance, chief executive of MNH Sustainable Cabin Services, a company that advises airlines on waste reduction, says,'It’s almost like taking a tube, tipping it upside down, emptying it out and then saying, 'Right, fill it up with new stuff again'."

The scale and cost of the waste have at last prompted some airline companies to tackle the problem. A scheme involving Iberia in Spain aims to recover 80% of cabin waste coming into Madrid’s Barajas airport by mid-2020 through simple measures such as retraining staff, using trolleys designed for waste separation, reducing food packaging and introducing re-usable cutlery.

In a different approach, last year Gatwick Airoport opened an on-site waste-to-energy plant, reducing the need for lorries to transport waste elsewhere. The power produced currently goes back into the plant, but Gatwick hopes the facility will eventually help to heat the north terminal.

Read this story in full in Guardian Sustainable Business here.

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Published 7 Apr 2017

Food Waste: Sustain supports a reduction in food surplus, loss and waste.

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