Need Help?

Sustainability was high on the agenda of the second day of the World Air Transport Summit (WATS) in Istanbul. The first panel of the morning focused on the challenge of getting to a zero-waste cabin.

Making aircraft cabins more sustainable and increasing the industry’s contribution to the circular economy is a priority for airlines who recognize the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling cabin waste from their flight operations to reduce their environmental footprint. Passengers are increasingly concerned about the impact of cabin waste, notably single-use plastics (SUPs), on the environment, while governments are focusing on minimizing food waste and addressing sources of pollution.

The main challenge is airlines need to comply with regulations at both ends of a journey – which are often completely different, and can even contribute to more cabin waste, not less. In addition, finding sustainable lightweight alternatives to single-use plastics that are both safe and hygienic is not an easy task.

“It’s not an isolated topic,” said Paul Paul Terstegge, Executive VP Inflight Services, KLM. “The minute you start working on reducing SUPs, by replacing with other materials, we end up adding weight to the airplane which results in more fuel burn and more CO2 emissions. And that’s where reducing SUPs conflicts with other interests and leads to more nuanced choices, and it’s an issue we’re facing as an industry.”  

“You can’t make easy switches at a global level. Regulations are different on every continent, and what’s allowed in one destination isn’t necessarily allowed in another,” said Jo Hendricx, Founder, Travel without Plastic. “Everything has an impact, somewhere, whatever we do, in the supply chain. And not all the alternatives are suitable or have the right sustainability credentials,” she added.

What is clear is that to find solutions and implement a global approach for the industry, it is necessary to focus on innovation and collaboration in the value chain. And the industry’s call to harmonize rules and regulations across the world needs to be heeded.  

> Back to Highlights

Need Help?