Aer Lingus becomes the first airline to recycle onboard aircraft waste

Aer Lingus - waste recycle

Aer Lingus, the flag carrier of Ireland, has become the first airline to introduce short-haul flights in Ireland, marking a significant stride in their business sustainability journey. It is their latest move in reaching their ambitious sustainability targets.

By the end of the year, the airline hopes to recycle 20% or 200 tonnes, of the waste generated on flights into Dublin and Cork airports. This figure will then increase to 40 percent – 720 tonnes – by 2025, reflecting their commitment to sustainable business practices.

What are Aer Lingus’ sustainability targets?

The Irish airline trialed waste recycling on board flights arriving in Cork at the end of last year and flights arriving in Dublin at the beginning of this year. They hope to extend this recycling programme to long-haul flights and other airports over time. 

The CEO of Aer Lingus has said that recycling on-board waste on these short-haul flights is another big milestone of the company’s sustainability agenda. She said that this is one of a wide-ranging set of actions they plan to take across the airline to drive environmental action. 

Why are they doing this?

In 2002, European regulations governing global catering waste were imposed following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. However, the Department of Agriculture lifted the regulations, confirming recycling can be applied to any waste arriving in Ireland that is not contaminated, including animal by-products. With this regulatory shift, Aer Lingus recognised the importance of managing waste according to the waste hierarchy, prioritising waste prevention, reduction, and recycling over disposal. This understanding provided a compelling impetus to commence its recycling programme, aligning with modern waste management principles.

Aer Lingus’ environmental progress

Panda, the waste management company, will be partnering with Aer Lingus on this recycling programme. They have said they are proud to be the first waste management company in Ireland to introduce recycling at the custom-built facility at Dublin Airport and on board the aircraft. Aer Lingus’ environmental actions are so impressive they have received a global accreditation for their progress. 

Aer Lingus received an IEnvA Stage 2 Certification from the International Air Transport Association for its work in curbing carbon emissions across corporate facilities and flight operations. The airline has affirmed its commitment to sustainability, continuously reviewing and monitoring progress towards its targets.

They have said the IATA Certification is a testament to their work with respect to the environment. Aer Lingus has also committed to powering 10 percent of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030. They signed a lease agreement in 2022 for two new Airbus aircraft which are far more fuel-efficient and create less noise.

Final thoughts

In an era of urgent emission reduction, tackling the impact and waste from flying is essential. It is incredible to see the actions the airline has already implemented and the future ones they plan to implement. They are also prioritising performance monitoring, which is vital for responsible business practices. We look forward to revisiting Aer Lingus to witness the impact of its new recycling programme.

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