Dubai-based Emirates airline’s initiative to reduce plastic gets global recognition

On June 1, 2023, the emirate's flagship carrier unveiled a closed loop recycling initiative to transition to the principles of a circular economy


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Wed 10 Apr 2024, 7:49 AM

Last updated: Wed 10 Apr 2024, 10:16 AM

Emirates airline’s initiative to reduce plastic waste through closed loop recycling has been recognized as one of the best practices among airlines around the world.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has listed Dubai flagship carrier’s closed loop recycling initiative among “good practices from the airline sector” in its latest study on the single-use plastic products (Supp).

“In addition to several initiatives to reduce plastic waste, the closed loop recycling initiative allows for millions of onboard items such as plastic trays, bowls, snacks, and casserole dishes to be recycled in a local facility and remade into fresh, ready-to-use Emirates meal service products,” the global aviation body Iata said.

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On June 1, 2023, Dubai’s flagship carrier unveiled a closed loop recycling initiative to transition to the principles of a circular economy, whereby items are reduced, reused, and recycled.

Through this initiative, millions of old and damaged meal service items from Economy and Premium Economy Class dining will be collected after flights, washed and checked for damage, transported to a facility in Dubai to be ground down, reprocessed, and manufactured into new dishes, bowls and trays – before being sent to Emirates Flight Catering to be used again for thousands of meals in the sky.

Dubai has mandated a ban on single-use plastic bags from June 1 across all retail outlets, with no store obligated to offer free alternatives. Dubai has already implemented 25 fils per single-use bag charge across all the retail outlets in the emirate.

Among the other good practices adopted by the airlines, Iata recognised Air Baltic’s initiative to allow passengers to submit in-flight meal selections up to one hour before departure to avoid unnecessary single-use plastic products (Supp); Delta Air Lines’ testing a reusable cup system and new paper cups; Malaysia Airlines’ biodegradable materials for inflight catering and merchandise; and Qantas’ premium economy blankets made with 20 recycled plastic or water bottles that are 100 per cent recycled PET are some of the other initiatives appreciated by the global body.

Iata has introduced reusable items as a strategy to drive circularity, reduce waste at source by reviewing standards and procedures through the lens of waste reduction and reuse, and set clear targets for the elimination of single-use plastic bags among others.


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