Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express,
In recent years, more people have paid attention to environmental protection. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report earlier, stating that if the earth continues to warm at the current rate, and we fail to take rapid and unprecedented measures to stop it, the global temperature may be risen by 1.5 degree Celsius during the year 2030 to 2052, and would cause floods, droughts, food shortages and other problems. To turn the tide, the human-made global carbon emissions must be reduced by about 45% before 2030 compared with that of the year 2010 and net zero carbon emissions must be achieved by 2050.
At the same time, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global passenger aircraft waste produced in 2016 reached 5.2 million tons – equivalent to 26,000 A350-900 passenger aircraft. IATA also expects the amount of waste to reach about 10 million tons in 2030. Moreover, manufacturing items excessively consumes a lot of resources, and waste disposal in landfill also produces greenhouse gases. Even recycling, transportation, and recycling consume energy.
Therefore, we expect airlines with a large influence to reduce waste at source and recycle when necessary, with consideration for the environment and the next generation. Suggestions are as below:
Reduce waste at source:
- Use reusable utensils
- Non-durable utensils made of truly decomposable materials (instead of traditional plastics added with PLA claiming to be “biodegradable” materials, reference: https://bit.ly/2zmx9Rm) should be used only during the transition period. Whereas single-use utensils made of wood, bamboo or other materials should not be used in long periods, to avoid intensifying excessive-logging.
- Provide “no eating utensils required” and “no meals required” options when booking flights and while check-in.
- Package-sealed utensils that are distributed or just distributed but returned immediately can be put backed into the storage and redistributed in the next flight. Disinfectant spray could be used to clean the package for hygienic concern.
Plastic cups, bottle water
- Replaced by reusable cups
- Improve the service process: when there is a cup at the passenger’s table, ask if the passenger is willing to reuse the cup, instead of taking it away immediately.
- Improve packaging by avoid using plastic package for items like magazines, blankets, earphones, eye masks, toothbrushes, or eating utensils.
- There are other methods that can achieve asimilar goal when packaging is necessary. For example, headphones can be tied with paper or other reusable materials, magazines do not necessarily need to be packaged, whereas blankets, eye masks, toothbrushes and other items can be packaged by truly decomposable materials.
Eye masks, toothbrushes, headphones and other items
- If packages are not opened, they can be kept for distribution on next flight instead of being disposed of .
- If the food package is sealed, they can be distributed in the next flight. For fruit and other items that will not spoil in a short time, they can be stored for checking and redistributed or can be donated.
- Food consumption on each flight can be recorded, or relevant food quantity systems can be used, in order to avoid waste of food.
- Set up a recycling area in the cabin so flight attendants will have the space to recycle easily. Recycling cart is also an alternative.
- Provide more information on recycling so flight attendants are informed on how to recycle properly, and let cleaning and recycling companies know how to handle the materials gathered by flight attendants.
- Encourage frontline staff and passengers to recycle by showing information on reuse, recycle and “bring your own”, and broadcast the relevant information.
Although the aviation industry has always been seen as un-environmental-friendly, we as passengers/citizens hope that airline companies can contribute to the society where and when they are capable of. Thus we wish airline companies to study and implement measures to reduce waste at source and recycle properly when necessary. In addition to the above, efforts should be made continuously to reduce aircraft fuel carbon emission, to improve the problem with the aim to achieve “zero net emissions”