Onboard sector strives to find solution to packaging waste issues

09 Dec 2016

3.15 million tonnes of waste  produced on board each year, equivalent in weight to approximately 8,536 aeroplanes

Suppliers to the air and rail industry are redoubling their efforts in a bid to reduce the mountain of packaging waste that is produced onboard each year. Exhibitors at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) 2017 will be showcasing their latest innovations which promise to address the growing issue of waste management and disposal in the sector.

The focus comes following a recent industry report which shows that only one third of plastic packaging used in consumer products is recycled each year, with almost two thirds sent to landfill or incinerated . In the past, airlines have tended towards non-reusable items as they are lighter and do not require cleaning or sterilisation. However, with increasing pressure from global organisations and governments to reduce waste and improve recycling, air and rail operators are turning to suppliers in a bid to improve sustainability in the industry. As a result, the topic is set to dominate WTCE, which takes place on 4-6 April 2017 in Hamburg.

However, it’s not an easy issue to resolve. The way a product is packaged continues to be an important consideration for the onboard travel industry. Not only does packaging protect a product from the point of manufacture, through transport and storage onboard, but it also performs a crucial sales and marketing function. The demand for light-weight, environmentally-friendly and sustainable packaging solutions, has also presented a new set of challenges for the industry to overcome.

Exhibitors at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE®) are already addressing these concerns, and reducing packaging waste, with new innovative designs and packaging materials. WK Thomas, leading supplier of innovative food packaging solutions for the catering and airline sectors, will join more than 36 exhibitors in Hamburg to showcase their innovatively designed packaging solutions. The company uses sugar cane fibres to create packaging that is 100% degradable. It’s Eco Heat Tray can be disposed of with food waste providing significant operational efficiencies while reducing the amount of packaging waste sent to landfill.

Returning exhibitor Monty’s Bakehouse, leading supplier of handheld snacks to the travel industry, revealed the importance of packaging for its award-winning range of snack products. “Product packaging plays an important role in the success of our business,” explained Lucy Stowell, Senior Manager Marketing & Insight, Monty’s Bakehouse. “We work closely with airlines and crew to design our products to minimise packaging waste, and the number of steps required to serve our products to passengers.”

“Our state of the art packaging technology ensures all of our ovenable packs are fully certified to 250˚C, and are cool to touch within 45 seconds. This enables crew to hand them safely to passengers who can enjoy them straight from the pack. We are excited to be exhibiting at WTCE 2017. As a leading force in the onboard hand-held snack market, the show provides us great exposure to suppliers and buyers relevant to our industry.”

Also addressing the issue of packaging waste are the airlines themselves. For example, British Airways has now reduced the amount of waste sent to landfill to just 3% while Doha based Qatar Airways and the Qatar Aircraft Catering Company (QACC) have joined forces to launch a new waste reduction and recycling programme. The partnership has resulted in over 266 tonnes of materials including cardboard, plastic wrapping and a variety of plastic containers recycled, while 6,300 litres of cooking oil has been converted into biodiesel.

Nikos Loukas, consultant to the airline industry and author of Inflight Feed, concluded: “There are some airlines that are doing a great job when it comes to packaging and recycling – Alaska Airlines, Air France, KLM and Aegean Airlines – for example, are all heavily committed to improving sustainability, and have their own initiatives to facilitate this. However, it really comes down to the cabin crew, and their willingness to comply with recycling initiatives when collecting passenger waste inflight. If they are on board, half the battle is won.”

Airline and rail operators visiting WTCE 2017 will be able to discover more about the industry’s initiatives to reduce packaging waste. Joining WK Thomas and Monty’s Bakehouse will be Kaelis, one of the world's leading providers of onboard products, services and solutions and WAM Group, suppliers of Kosher, Halal and gluten-free meal trays, which will return to Hamburg to showcase solutions for the onboard industry. They will be joined by new exhibitor, MTL Carton, a paperboard packaging manufacturer, which will present its new disposable packaging line BOLD CUP.

For more information on exhibiting at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo 2017, please visit http://bit.ly/2frzyQz

To register to visit, go to http://bit.ly/2fWacX7

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