Project Green continues to be a great success for Air New Zealand. the airline’s latest initiative to reduce inflight waste has seen more than 132 tonnes diverted from landfill in its first nine months – the equivalent weight of three of the airline’s A320 aircraft.
The project was launched in August last year in conjunction with the airline’s catering partner LSG Sky Chefs and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to tackle inflight waste from international services arriving in Auckland, with a goal to divert 150 tonnes of waste from landfill annually.
The project has seen 40 inflight products, which had previously been sent to landfill due to biosecurity controls. These have been reclassified so these can be reused on flights in future. If they are removed from aircraft sealed and untouched. Products approved to date include sealed beverages and unopened snacks with further items to be added in the coming months. In the first month of running Project Green across its international fleet, the airline diverted 13 tonnes of waste. This included 266,000 plastic cups, 480kg of sugar packets and 3.5 tonnes of bottled water.
Tracking to date shows more than nine million individual items have been recovered. These have been reused or recycled rather than going to landfill.
Air New Zealand Head of Sustainability Lisa Daniell says this includes more than one million of each main items. These include plastic cups, sugar sticks, paper cups and paper cup lids.
“We are tracking our progress every month. We’re confident of hitting our 150 tonne goal in the first 12 months of this project. As an airline, we are extremely committed to sustainability, which is an important issue for our customers and our employees. We are pleased that by working closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries and our catering partner LSG Sky Chefs. We are able to make another step in reducing our impact on the environment.”
The programme, 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. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) data estimating the global industry generated 5.2m tonnes of inflight 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 says, “We’ve spent considerable time auditing our inflight 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 how airlines can work with border regulators. It can 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 says, “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. “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. These items need to be able to be safely recovered. They will develop a more precise approach to analysing collection data to ensure aircraft are catered more accurately.
Project Green is just one of several initiatives Air New Zealand has in place across its business to tackle waste. The airline also has programmes in place to recycle paper coffee cups used on domestic jet services. Also organic waste from head office, office materials and lounge furniture, staff uniforms and blankets.