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British Airways Recycling Policy is Rubbish

Our Account Manager, Elle, gives her insight into British Airways' rather rubbish recycling scheme following a recent experience onboard...



A shocking report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the wonderful Planet Earth series with (Sir) David Attenborough have woken us all up to the terrible reality of climate change and global warming, warning us we have just 12 years left to limit climate change.


Although the findings of the report are awful, it has helped bring climate change to the forefront of our minds, and articles with top-tips and practical ideas about what we can do are appearing in our newsfeeds so that the message is hard to ignore.  


Whether you’re introducing recycling to your workplace, using public transport rather than taking the car or buying seasonal and local produce there are lots of practical steps we can do to help make a change.


Sir Attenborough has helped to inspire hope and a generation who want to protect the planet and the wildlife which lives here.


“We have a moral responsibility to the natural world as well as a practical one not to screw it up, otherwise we are going to be in big trouble. And we are screwing it up, certainly.”





A recent holiday involving air-travel got me thinking…


According to The International Air Transport Association planes only make up 2% of man-made carbon dioxide emissions (although some argue that it is higher). There are other damaging effects in the vapour trails that airlines leave, however, cars, power stations and factories do more damage.


However, Airlines are not developing emission-reducing technology at the same rate as other industries. For me the biggest shock was the amount of waste created with the average person creating 1.4kg of waste per flight and the lack of recycling onboard.


Figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) (an industry trade body whose members account for 82% of global air traffic), show airlines generated around 5.2 million tonnes of rubbish in 2016 alone and figures suggest this will double in the next 15 years.


Every drink comes in a plastic cup, every food item is wrapped in plastic and after asking a flight attendant to recycle my newspaper apparently ‘’we don't do on-board recycling’’.


The airline industry is starting to take action but is often slowed down by complex rules about how waste from international flights is handled, as this waste is considered ‘high risk’ and must be burnt or sent to landfill.


There are some success stories …


As part of its commitment to halve net emissions by 2050, British Airways has partnered with Velocys, a renewable fuels company, who are developing waste incineration plants that can produce renewable fuels to power aircrafts.


Since introducing a major initiative in 2011, KLM, has already managed to reduce the amount of waste aircrafts produce by 32%. KLM want to increase this to 50% by 2025, focusing on creating specific waste flows in order to recycle as much waste as possible.


For me, it seems one of the best ways to reduce waste would be to stop producing so much rubbish! Brands must be creative to reduce the amount of non-recyclable packing used and airlines must work with international catering regulators to improve opportunities for recycling.


It appears that laws make the situation complex and the solution is not as simple as I had hoped. However, I urge everyone to write to their airline of choice, this feedback can help to create change.