Aer Lingus has become the first airline to sort and recycle on-board waste from short-haul flights arriving in Ireland. The action is another significant step towards the airline’s ambitious sustainability goals.
By the end of 2023, the goal is to recycle 20%, or 200 tonnes, of on-board waste from flights into Cork and Dublin airports. This quantity is expected to increase by 40%, or 720 tonnes, by 2025.
In 2002, European regulations governing international catering waste were enacted in response to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which impeded the recycling of on-board waste.
However, the Department of Agriculture has verified that recycling can be applied to all waste entering Ireland that does not contain animal byproducts.
Aer Lingus piloted the recycling of waste from flights into Cork and Dublin at the conclusion of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, respectively.
In addition to implementing recycling on journeys to Cork and Dublin, the airline will gradually expand the programme to other airports and long-haul flights.
Lynne Embleton, the chief executive officer of Aer Lingus, stated, “Recycling on-board waste on short-haul flights into Dublin and Cork is another milestone on the airline’s focused sustainability agenda.”
He added that recycling is something that the vast majority of our customers want to see implemented, and this new on-board initiative complements other positive measures they are taking on the aircraft, including the use of more sustainable materials and the reduction of 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,” added Lynne Embleton.
Panda’s Managing Director, Derek Dunne, remarked, “This is a great initiative by Aer Lingus and an exciting extension of the partnership we have held for the last number of years.”
Panda focuses on the circular economy through recycling and resource recovery; as a result, the airline is proud to be the first waste management company in Ireland to facilitate the introduction of recycling on board aircraft and at a custom facility at Dublin Airport.
Derek Dunne continued, “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 is also the first Irish airline to receive a significant international accreditation for its sustainability progress, highlighting the airline’s efforts and positive development.
Aer Lingus has been awarded IEnvA Stage 2 Certification by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for its efforts to reduce carbon emissions across flight operations and corporate facilities.
The IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) programme is a globally recognised evaluation system designed to assess an airline’s environmental performance independently and aid in its improvement.
Lynne Embleton, CEO of Aer Lingus, applauded the accomplishment and remarked that this certification reflected the level of work that Aer Lingus’s entire organisation has already invested 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”.
By 2030, 10% of Aer Lingus flights will be powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The airline signed a lease agreement for two new Airbus A320neo aircraft last year, which are more fuel-efficient and produce less pollution. This year, the airline will take delivery of two more A320neo aircraft.
Wille Walsh, general director of IATA, stated that Aer Lingus’ IEnvA certification demonstrates its commitment to sustainability across all of its operations.
He added, “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.”