Monday 7th June, 2010

Recycling on the plane

Image courtesy dnc, Flickr

Airline companies are striving to cut jet fuel use, but the excessive food packaging and disposable cutlery used onboard add to travellers' carbon footprints. NetJets Europe decided to change its catering packages and go green last week.

The European business jet operator has adopted a new catering box, which is made from sustainably sourced bamboo and features wooden cutlery and porcelain inserts. All of them are recyclable. Even the lids are biodegradable and the porcelain inserts will be re-used. The new food box takes up only half the space of the previous model.

"NetJets Europe takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and this new packaging is just one small way in which the catering department can contribute," says Ricardo Paiva, Catering Senior Manager at NetJets Europe. "We're encouraging our crew to work with our ground staff to achieve and exceed our recycling targets and minimise wastage."

According to Paiva, NetJets is working with its crew, local FBOs, anchor caterers and cleaning companies to ensure that equipment can be reused at the end of each flight.

NetJets Europe is not the only company aware of its status as a polluter and conducting reforms. Since 2009, several airlines operating to and from Britain have adopted recyclable tableware to cut their carbon footprints. Qatar Airways serves passengers with reusable and aesthetically appealing food packages on board.

According to Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker, the change is "aimed [at] not only helping the environment but enhancing customers’ flying experience".

The statistics on British airlines are sketchy, but the US airline industry discards enough aluminium cans every year to build 58 Boeing 747s and enough paper to fill a football field. While 75 per cent is recyclable, only 20 per cent actually end up being recycled, according to consumer watchdog Green America.

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