June 19, 2024

Time to rethink

International sustainability consultancy Sancroft, works with some of the world’€™s leading companies to improve their environment, ethical and social impact. It has developed a report examining the’˜skyrocketing’€™ plastics compliance costs’“ up 800% per tonne, in the last three years alone’“ and identified key drivers to eco change. Here, Sancroft’€™s senior consultant Dom de Ville highlights how this new operating environment calls for organisations to rethink their business model…

We have all sat on aircraft and seen our rubbish being collected by the cabin crew as they pass down the aisles with bags’“ but it is what happens to it next which concerns me. Airlines have mixed practice on recycling. Sometimes there will be separate bags for food waste and recyclables, but usually just one bag for everything. The fast turnaround on flights and variable facilities at airports means that packaging is not recycled as much as it could and should be.

Whilst Covid-19 may mean that the industry’€™s focus is elsewhere right now, the issue of managing the waste stream is one of the biggest challenges for airlines. It is not the biggest, but eventually it will return, and environmentally-savvy passengers will demand it.

For those companies that supply food and drink to international airlines, this is a huge opportunity to create a unique selling point around zero waste (supported by 100% recyclable packaging) and is actually a way cutting costs too.

Any airline, or organisation in their supply chain, that is not aware of new and forthcoming requirements for the removal of unnecessary material and an insistence on the necessity of recycling needs to know these are really important, and that they need to act now.

Looking at the UK, the Plastics Tax coming into force in 2022 will see businesses whose products have less than 30% recyclable material being charged ‘£200 per tonne.

The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will force producers and users of packaging to pay the full net cost of collecting, reprocessing and recycling packaging to local authorities.

Also on the rise are Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) charges, the fees that companies must pay towards the collection and disposal of plastic packaging waste they put on the market.

The EU’€™s announcement that it is to introduce a ‘‚¬800 a tonne levy on plastic waste from January 2021 as part of the bloc’€™s ‘‚¬750 billion coronavirus recovery fund agreement is another sure-fire sign of what is to come elsewhere.

The ambition for the airline industry as a whole must be to move towards zero-waste, dealing with its own waste effectively and holding its supply chain to account on good practice, avoiding huge associated costs as a result.

Put simply, the financial burden is too high for airlines to continue the way they have been.

The new operating environment calls for industry, globally, to rethink its model from one that sees plastic packaging as a basic cost of doing business, much like paying your monthly gas bill, to one that understands the fundamental changes that need to be made to the business for it to thrive sustainability and profitably.

As we begin to define our modified business models, we cannot afford to forget the key issues that define us.