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is plastic a sustainable solution to reduce cabin waste ?

Updated: Jan 30, 2019


Again, plastic represents a famility of hunderd products and there are sustainable plastics and useless plastics.


#IATA reported 5.7 million tonnes* of #cabin #waste in 2017. Most of the #airline companies want to reduce their waste and #recycle them, but quite often they are limited by country’s regulation to restrict spread of animal disease and wastes must be incinerated. The right #packaging choice is part of the solution for more sustainable flight …


What are the problems to solve?

1. Individual packaging is essential to keep food fresh, hygienic and free from contamination. Cabin dry air affects also food quality and barrier material is needed.

2. Need to have space &weight saving for packaging.


The best solutions are based on a combination of :

For Airline :

  • appropriate waste management best practices by providing assessments and advice on the handling, disposal, and #recocvery of catering waste from aircraft.

For catering companies:

  • packaging source reduction,

  • optimised design to avoid #wastedSpace

  • material easy to incinerate with energy recovery. ( for countries which request waste incineration)

In this specific case, the most sustainable solution would be to eliminate unnecessary packaging or component (eg. carboard + plastic film, keep just plastic film), remove as much as possible wasted space in the packaging (need headspace for sealed packaging) and prefer light weight material.

#Plastic coming from #renewable source or/and #recycled material, heat resistant but easy to burn (with food waste) and with lower weight vs other material may be useful. Several developments are done in this area which are worth to explore.


For countries allowing cabin waste recycling: aluminium, paper fibres or recyclable plastics may be a good solution , but weight &space may be an issue.


For countries allowing cabin waste composting: paper fibres will be the best solutions – moulded fibres or pressed paper trays, but weight & space may be an issue


For countries with no waste management: paper fibres are the best solution – #reusable containers will necessitate a lot of water/detergent to clean it and are not the best sustainable solution due to water stress.


*Including toilet waste.

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