Emirates to recycle plastic trays, bowls into new products
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Emirates to recycle plastic trays, items used onboard into new products

Emirates to recycle plastic trays, items used onboard into new products

The airline has launched a new closed-loop recycling initiative, which will see millions of onboard items recycled in a local facility into fresh, ready-to-use products

Gulf Business
Emirates to recycle onboard items as part of its new closed loop recycling initiative Image credit Emirates

Emirates Airline has unveiled a new closed-loop recycling initiative.

The initiative will see millions of onboard items, such as plastic trays, bowls, and snack and casserole dishes, now recycled in a local facility. They will then be remade into fresh, ready-to-use meal service products.

Emirates will introduce the new recycled utensils onboard from June onwards, marking World Environment Day on June 5, and the theme of #BeatPlasticPollution.

Millions of old and damaged meal service items from Economy and Premium Economy Class dining will be collected after flights, washed and checked for damage, transported to a facility in Dubai to be ground down, reprocessed, and manufactured into new dishes, bowls and trays.

These items will be then sent to Emirates Flight Catering to be used again for thousands of meals in the sky.

The new trays, casseroles, snack dishes and bowls, potentially containing around 2 per cent reused material (recyclate),  will be brought back into service on the airline’s fleet.

Emirates partners with deSter

The airline has partnered with deSter UAE, a provider of service ware concepts to the aviation industry and an expert in closed loop manufacturing, for the project.

The airline will be reusing plastic materials that have already reached their end of life and would otherwise need to be written off.

The team at deSter are members of the CE100 network, which includes some of the world’s leading circular economy companies and have also been awarded the ‘Gold’ Sustainability rating from Ecovadis – a globally recognised certification for sustainable practices.

Emirates elected to work with deSter once a facility in UAE was ready to facilitate the huge scale of Emirates’ requirement – substantially reducing the carbon footprint of sending the products to another country to be recycled.

The deSter factory also incorporates sustainable design principles focusing on solar power, efficient use of water and minimisation of waste.

Close-loop recycling journey
The close-loop recycling journey. Image Emirates

Here’s how the airline has been reducing plastic waste

  • It has diverted over 150 million single-use plastic items from landfill each year by replacing plastic straws, inflight retail bags, and stirrers with responsibly sourced paper and wooden alternatives.
  • Each blanket in Economy and Premium Economy Class is manufactured from 28 recycled plastic bottles. Over the course of one year, this initiative saves 88 million plastic bottles from landfill.
  • The airline’s current range of inflight toy bags, baby amenity kits and plush toys are made from recycled plastic bottles, and over eight million plastic bottles were repurposed during 12 months of amenity kit production.
  • The hygiene covers for bowls on Emirates meal trays and plastic tumblers are made from 80 per cent recycled plastic.
  • Economy and Premium Economy amenity kits are made from alternative materials such as kraft paper, rice paper and recycled plastic, reducing the consumption of virgin plastic.
  • Emirates cabin crew separate glass and plastic bottles for recycling in Dubai, diverting about 500,000 kilograms of plastic and glass from landfill in 2022.

Read: Emirates to phase out paper boarding passes for flights from Dubai

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