Catering 18 Stories

Less Single Use Plastics

Published

13th Jun, 2019

Although all our waste is handled in closed systems, meaning that practically none of our waste products end up outside, we recognize the growing concerns regarding plastic waste and Single Use Plastics (SUPs) destroying (marine) ecosystems. KLM has been working on reducing the environmental impact of our onboard products for years.

Our approach

1. Remove
Removing SUPs is the most effective way to reduce waste and over the past years we have removed as many SUPs as possible. We have, for example, removed many wrappers, abolished straws in 2014 and removed plastic bags for tax-free sales. When removal is not an option we aim to use the most environmental friendly materials, reduce the material use and recycle what is left.

2. Lowest environmental impact
KLM uses product materials that have the lowest environmental impact throughout their entire life cycle. This means that we are making informed choices on product materials, looking at their environmental impact during the production, usage and processing/disposal phase. When deciding on our salad bowls served in World Business Class, TNO performed a study for KLM comparing a porcelain rotable salad bowl with a SUP salad bowl. The study showed that, due to the additional weight, the rotable salad bowl actually had a higher environmental impact than the plastic bowl. On board, every extra gram has a direct impact on the fuel use and thus on the CO2 emission. Therefore we do not disregard SUPs entirely, but aim to make informed material choices. 

3. Reduce

When plastic is the most environmental friendly choice, we ensure to redesign the products so that they require less material. For example, the disposable glass now weights 70% less compared to 2011, and the new Economy Class product features redesigned disposable plastic cutlery, rotable trays and earphones that all are made smaller and lighter.


4. Recycle and use of recycled plastic
On board on European flights, the plastics cups are collected separately and are recycled. Plastic water and wine bottles too are collected and recycled. We recently started using a share of these plastics to process them into filament to 3D print components at our Engineering & Maintenance business.
Due to strict EU regulation to protect plant and animal health, we are not allowed to recycle plastic food and drink containers from intercontinental flights. In addition, we use recycled plastic for a share of our items such as the salad bowls.

Supporting initiatives

Next to pro-actively reducing the impact of our operations on the planet, we support the Ocean Clean-Up that develops advanced technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic. Flying Blue members are invited to donate miles for the Ocean Clean-up. 

Looking forward

We are continuously trying to reduce our waste and environmental impact.  Although it’s important to reduce plastic waste and remove SUPs where possible, in aviation SUPs have an important function to prevent food waste and to ensure food hygiene. More importantly is plastic’s characteristic of being very light-weight. KLM is constantly looking for lighter alternatives of all items on board. In recent years we have, for example, replaced the catering trolleys and cargo nets by much lighter alternatives, removed all newspapers and magazines, and substituted printed flight briefings for cabin and cockpit crew with an IPad. Currently we are investigating, together with our suppliers, alternatives to remaining SUP items on board.

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