New Era Newspaper

New Era Epaper
Icon Collap
Home / Aviation’s single-use plastic products' report released

Aviation’s single-use plastic products' report released

2024-04-15  Staff Reporter

Aviation’s single-use plastic products' report released

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released the Reassessing Single-Use Plastic Products in the Airline Sector report to assist airlines, regulators and the airline supply chain to mitigate the environmental impacts of single-use plastic products (SUPP). 

This publication is timely as the United National Environmental Programme (UNEP) has convened an intergovernmental negotiating
committee (INC) to develop an international legally- binding agreement on SUPP use by the end of 2024. 

SUPP are widely used in aviation due to their strength, lightness and ability to meet safety and security regulations. However, the airline sector faces challenges associated with improved cabin waste performance and the replacement of SUPP with sustainable alternatives. 

In addition, airlines face technical and operational obstacles, and the lack of harmonised and risk-based regulations presents a significant barrier to improving recycling and the circularity of waste management. The absence of smart regulation continues to constrain airline efforts to improve the sustainability of cabin operations.

Collaboration across the aviation value chain is vital to enable the adoption of circular economy principles and to facilitate the reduction and replacement of SUPP that is necessary for reducing waste and increasing material recovery.

The report advocates for a sectoral approach to managing SUPP in aviation with a clear set of recommendations. For airlines, key recommendations include reducing waste at source by reviewing standards and procedures through the lens of waste reduction and reuse, professionally assessing the need for SUPP; setting clear targets for the elimination, measurement and tracking implementation, and disclosing progress, as well as introducing reusable items as a strategy to drive circularity. 

This requires logistical changes that incorporate a closed-loop service, including the impact of potential added weight of reusables on aircraft on fuel burn and carbon emissions, improving waste management and recovery by facilitating onboard and ground waste segregation, and undertaking waste composition audits for passenger and cargo operations.

For regulators, the recommendations include proactively encouraging the minimisation of SUPP by addressing the need for simple harmonised regulations and legislation. Develop guidance that allows for global common definitions and standards for alternative products that include labelling, integrity and certifications; creating the infrastructure and frameworks that will make reuse models possible, while being aware of and responsive to the characteristics of international airline operations, as well as supporting the development of infrastructure for waste segregation and recovery at or close to airport premises.

Recommendations for the supply chain include taking part in or organising solution-focused discussions involving key stakeholders, to help identify and implement process changes that prioritise end-to-end solutions that ensure best practices and promote regulatory change; and increasing public/private sector collaboration and significant investments to implement circular economy principles in the airline sector value chain to enable considerable changes to processes and procedures for stakeholders both upstream and downstream.

 "Airlines are taking a comprehensive approach to sustainability that includes addressing the environmental impact of SUPP. The recommendations of this report will help airlines, regulators and the supply chain to manage the complexities of reducing SUPP. This includes finding alternatives to SUPP, creating a harmonised regulatory framework, and promoting sector-wide collaboration. Importantly, these recommendations take advantage of the expertise of all participants in the aviation sector to develop, adapt and implement the solutions best-suited to an aircraft’s unique environment,” said Marie Owens Thomsen, IATA SVP sustainability and chief economist. 

The IATA passenger insights, survey conducted in November 2023 showed that more than three-quarters of passengers would feel better about flying if it did not involve any SUPP, and that they would be happy to support fewer food and beverage options so that airlines could achieve this. 

The IATA shipper survey 2022 showed that 50% of cargo customers include waste reduction along the supply chain among their top priorities, and cargo operators are receiving requests from end-
customers to reduce the associated plastic packaging and wrapping.

2024-04-15  Staff Reporter

Share on social media