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Setting the scene

Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, Director of the Economy Division UNEP, gave an address on Single Use Plastics (SUP) calling for the industry to work with governments to solve the problem of the 6 million tonnes a year of waste generated by air travel.

SUP that are landfilled rot down to microplastics, which find their way into everything, including the water supply. There is increasing concern that this can affect everything from cancer to male reproduction and fertility. The Nairobi resolution has set governments two years to negotiate a global plastics agreements. The aim will be for a life-cycle approach to the problem – “upstream to waste stream” - focused on a circular, not linear economy.

For the upstream, it’s about looking at ways to increase the amount of plastics that can be recycled. Additives and hazardous materials restrict plastic recycling. For the mid-stream, retailers are key, looking at how they can reduce waste. And finally, downstream, it’s necessary to create more options for recycling.

The banking sector, insurance and institutional investors are increasingly looking towards sustainability – this is creating business opportunities. It’s vital that airlines embrace this and get in the game by setting targets and working with governments for the correct policies.

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