Aer Lingus has become the first airline to segregate and recycle on-board waste arriving on short-haul flights into Ireland.
The move is another big step by the airline towards reaching its ambitious sustainability targets.
It is now on target to be recycling 20% - 200 tonnes - of on-board waste from flights into Cork and Dublin airports by the end of 2023. This figure is scheduled to increase to 40% - 720 tonnes - by 2025.
European regulations governing international catering waste were imposed in 2002 following the Foot and Mouth outbreak, which inhibited the recycling of on-board waste.
However, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed that recycling can apply to any waste coming into Ireland that is not contaminated by animal by-products.
Aer Lingus trialled waste recycling from flights into Cork at the end of 2022 and into Dublin at the start of 2023.
In addition to rolling out recycling on short-haul flights into Cork and Dublin, the carrier will extend the programme to other airports and to long-haul flights, over time.
Aer Lingus CEO, Lynne Embleton, said: “Recycling on-board waste on short-haul flights into Dublin and Cork is another milestone on the airline’s focused sustainability agenda.
“We know from our customers that recycling is something the vast majority wish to see happen and this new on-board initiative complements other positive steps we are taking on our aircraft, including the use of more sustainable materials and reducing single use plastics on-board.
“Our on-board recycling initiative is one of a wide-ranging set of actions we are taking across Aer Lingus to drive sustainability at the airline, including investing in new fuel-efficient aircraft* and investing in sustainable aviation fuel.”
Derek Dunne, Managing Director for Panda, added: “This is a great initiative by Aer Lingus and an exciting extension of the partnership we have held for the last number of years.
At Panda, we focus on the circular economy through recycling and resource recovery; therefore, we are proud to be the first waste management company in Ireland to facilitate the introduction of recycling both on board the aircraft and at the custom-built facility at Dublin Airport.
As a business, we are striving towards net zero by 2040 and are committed to shaping a better future for all by making sustainable choices easy and enabling our customers to leave a greener footprint.”
Aer Lingus has also become the first Irish airline to achieve a major international accreditation for its sustainability progress, reinforcing the work that has been undertaken by the airline and the positive progress that has been made.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has given Aer Lingus an IEnvA Stage 2 Certification for its work in reducing carbon emissions across flight operations and corporate facilities.
The IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) programme is a globally recognised evaluation system designed to independently assess and help to improve the environmental performance of an airline.
Welcoming the achievement, Aer Lingus CEO Lynne Embleton said this certification reflected the level of work already done across the entire organisation at Aer Lingus in identifying and mitigating its environmental impact.
“It is only by setting ambitious performance targets and embedding environmental management plans that we will make inroads into tackling climate change. We are continuously advancing processes for monitoring and reviewing our performance against our environmental targets and objectives and the IATA certification is testament to that work”.
Aer Lingus has committed to powering 10% of flights using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030. Last year, the airline signed a lease agreement for two new Airbus A320neo aircraft, which are more fuel-efficient and create less noise, while the airline is also taking delivery of another two of the A320neo aircraft later this year.
IATA’s Director General, Wille Walsh said the IEnvA certification was a clear demonstration of
Aer Lingus’s strong commitment to sustainability across all its operations.
“Stakeholders, including governments, financiers and business partners will know that Aer Lingus is not just meeting global standards and best practices on sustainability, but is committed to continuous improvements to stay at the forefront of sustainability,” he added.