Would you like a recycled snack on your next international flight?

Wednesday, 11 October, 2017

Sealed beverages and unopened snacks are just two of the in-flight products that will be reclassified so they can be re-used on future Air New Zealand flights as part of the company’s drive to reduce inflight waste from its international services arriving in Auckland.

Air New Zealand, its catering partner LSG Sky Chefs and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have teamed up in ‘Project Green’, an initiative to divert 150 tonnes of waste from landfill annually.

Recycling unopened snacks that were previously sent to landfill due to biosecurity controls is just part of the initiative. The airline also has programs in place to recycle paper coffee cups used on domestic jet services, organic waste from head office, office materials and lounge furniture, staff uniforms and blankets.

In the first month of running Project Green across its international fleet, Air New Zealand diverted 13 tonnes of waste, including 266,000 plastic cups, 480 kg of sugar packets and 3.5 tonnes of bottled water.

The program, which has been developed over 18 months, is also enabling greater recycling of low biosecurity risk packaging, more accurate loading of catering items onto aircraft and reduced waste disposal costs with fewer items sent to landfill.

Waste management is a significant issue for all airlines, with International Air Transport Association (IATA) data estimating the global industry generated 5.2 million tonnes of in-flight waste in 2016. While Air New Zealand has always been waste conscious, quarantine controls have presented challenges to recycling initiatives in the past.

Air New Zealand Head of Operational Delivery Alan Gaskin said, “We’ve spent considerable time auditing our in-flight waste to gain a better understanding of how we can improve our handling processes. By collaborating with LSG Sky Chefs and MPI we’ve been able to make significant gains and we’re incredibly encouraged by the early data we’re seeing.

“Project Green is an outstanding example of how airlines can work with border regulators to develop solutions to reduce cabin waste without comprising quarantine controls.”

The project has required a change in onboard processes for the airline’s staff, particularly for cabin crew who play a key role by returning unused items to stowage and separating goods correctly.

LSG Sky Chefs New Zealand General Manager Pieter Harting said, “Our role in Project Green is to ensure items taken off aircraft are sorted correctly and meet the standards we’ve agreed with MPI and Air New Zealand, before reloading trolleys with approved items for the next service. It’s been an exciting journey for us, requiring a big culture shift and getting our people onboard with new ways of working.”

Ministry for Primary Industries Cargo Manager Stu Rawnsley said, “This project is rethinking how waste from international flights is managed in New Zealand. It’s been excellent working with Air New Zealand and LSG to ensure the initiative meets New Zealand’s tough biosecurity standards.”

This is the first stage of the airline’s collaboration with LSG Sky Chefs New Zealand and MPI. Moving forward the organisations will look at how they can further expand the range of unused products that can safely be recovered and develop a more precise approach to analysing collection data to ensure aircraft are catered more accurately.

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