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Emirates gets global recognition for reducing plastic use

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The closed-loop recycling initiative allows for millions of onboard items such as plastic trays, bowls, snacks, and casserole dishes to be recycled in a local facility and remade into fresh, ready-to-use Emirates meal service products

The closed-loop recycling programme of Emirates Airlines has been acknowledged as one of the world’s best practices in reducing plastic waste among airlines.

In their most recent report on single-use plastic products, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) included Dubai’s flagship carrier’s closed-loop recycling programme among “good practices from the airline sector.”

“In addition to several initiatives to reduce plastic waste, the closed-loop recycling initiative allows for millions of onboard items such as plastic trays, bowls, snacks, and casserole dishes to be recycled in a local facility and remade into fresh, ready-to-use Emirates meal service products,” the global aviation body Iata said, Zawya reported.

To adopt the ideas of a circular economy—in which products are reduced, reused, and recycled—Dubai’s premier airline unveiled a closed-loop recycling programme on June 1, 2023.

This initiative aims to collect millions of outdated and damaged meal service items from Economy and Premium Economy Class dining flights.

The items will be cleaned and inspected for damage, then transported to a facility in Dubai where they will be reprocessed, ground down, and manufactured into new dishes, bowls, and trays. Finally, they will be sent to Emirates Flight Catering so that they can be used for thousands of meals in the air again.

Dubai has made it mandatory for all retail establishments to stop using single-use plastic bags as of June 1st; no store is required to provide free alternatives. Dubai has already imposed a 25-fil fee per single-use bag at all of its retail locations.

IATA acknowledged the following airline-adopted best practices: Qantas’ premium economy blankets made with 20 recycled plastic or water bottles that are 100% recycled PET; Delta Air Lines’ testing of a reusable cup system and new paper cups; Malaysia Airlines’ biodegradable materials for in-flight catering and merchandise; and Air Baltic’s initiative to allow passengers to submit in-flight meal selections up to one hour before departure to avoid unnecessary single-use plastic products.

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