Report criticizes airlines' on-board recycling efforts

Click to follow
The Independent Travel

A environmental pressure group has slammed the efforts of US airlines to clean up their act in a recently released report.

The Green America report, released last week, suggests that US airlines could recycle nearly 75 percent of the inflight waste that they generate, from food packaging to drinks cans. However, only 20 percent is actually recycled, leading the group to suggest that that airlines could recycle up to 500 million pounds (226.7 million kg) more waste each year, half of that in-flight waste. Airlines generate over 880 million pounds (399 million kg) of waste annually, the group claims.

"While airlines may face some challenges in creating effective recycling programs, evidence shows that working systems can be implemented," said Green America's Todd Larsen "Our report demonstrates that several airlines are significantly ahead of their competitors in taking these steps."

Green America singled out US airlines Delta, Virgin, and Southwest for having the best recycling programs, while United and US Airways had the worst.
According to research from the US Natural Resource Defense Council US airlines throw away 9,000 tons of plastic, enough aluminum cans to build 58 Boeing 747 jets, and enough newspaper and magazines to cover a football field 230 meters deep.

Although the International Air Transport Association has pledged to reduce total carbon output by 50 percent by 2050, few airlines have specific targets for recycling materials on board. In December 2009, Qantas introduced a new onboard recycling service, aiming to recycle eight and a half million bottles, cups, tumblers and cans every year on its domestic services. US carrier Delta introduced biodegradable amenity kits on-board its flights in 2007, whilst British Airways is aiming for zero waste to landfill by 2010.

Airlines' Recycling - Best to Worst (US airlines only)
Data from Green America

1. Delta Airlines
2. Virgin America
3. Southwest Airlines
4. Continental Airlines
5. Jet Blue
6. American Airlines
7. Air Tran
8. United Airlines
9. US Airways