Take back control
December 20, 2019
Anne De Hauw, of In Air Travel believes airlines need to re-evaluate the take-make-dispose consumption model. Julie Baxter asks how could this help drive change?
Environmental sustainability is inevitably becoming an existential topic in the aviation industry. New laws and regulations are forcing action at the same time as passengers are increasingly looking at their own environmental footprint and demanding eco-friendly solutions.
BUT WILL MAKING ECO CHANGES REALLY IMPACT AN AIRLINE’S SUCCESS?
According to IATA, airlines produced 6.1 million tonnes of waste last year and will produce over 10 million by 2030. A typical airline passenger generates 0.82kg to 2.5kg waste, or 1.43kg on average per flight. 23% of this waste is untouched food & drinks; 17% is recyclable materials plastic bottles, newspapers…) but most of that ends up in landfill. To understand the importance of change for the business just imagine the impact on customer experience and satisfaction scores if passengers knew the full story of the waste generated inflight and realised what happens to it post-flight?
AIRLINES INSIST THEY ARE MAKING PROGRESS, DON’T YOU AGREE?
To compensate their environmental footprint, airlines and airports have been mainly focused on CO2 reduction, carbon footprint off-setting and a less pollutive fleet (fuel savings and biofuel). But with weight being the largest footprint influencer for airlines, an increased focus on waste reduction and better waste management practices are needed.
WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES TO CHANGE?
This call to action is unlikely to come from airline’s current providers because their business models are often built around volume selling. Hence, airlines need to get back in the driving seat and urgently re-evaluate the take-make-dispose consumption model. They need to drive the change.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE GOAL?
It is clear that industry practices require transformation into a circular economy: a closed-loop sustainable model to reduce, recover and recycle waste. Shifting the system into a circular model though requires a collaborative way of working and involves everyone in the value chain: airlines, airports, governments, products and service providers, kitchens, waste management companies, recycling plants; even the passenger!
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
Combining forces and controlling the narrative creates multiple opportunities for a unified approach on procurement and recovery. It would allow us to see how waste can be regenerated together; and help evaluate the cost and find operational savings by sourcing commonly used items together. Such a collaborative approach would create real opportunities for airlines and airports to close the gaps in waste recovery, which would add both economic value to the industry’s bottomline and sustainability value to passengers.
ARE THERE ANY QUICK FIXES?
Yes, if airlines want to start making a difference, simplifying service can quickly help save money, improve the inflight customer experience AND make for a more sustainable operation. If they want to drive change, a pre-emptive, systematic and multistakeholder strategy will support them to leverage the industry’s closed and controlled ecosystem AND satisfy passenger, regulatory, community and governing board demands.
Hear Anne talk at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) in Hamburg, March 31 – April 2 2020. Register to attend now.