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KLM Catering Services has set ambitious environmental goals, and is well on its way to reducing its amount of waste and increasing the share of recyclable waste. If something can’t be re-used or recycled, it can be incinerate for energy production. Nowadays, the waste stage is also considered when developing and designing passenger products. Can it be re-used, recycled, or recovered is the question we ask ourselves.
The complete catering load for a 747 heading for New York is 3.7 tonnes. That’s a lot of supplies, and preparation. It also means every flight generates a lot of waste. On average, this adds up to a total of around 95,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard a month.
To ensure that as much of this paper is collected and reused as possible, special colour-coded wheelie bins are provided for cabin cleaning teams. And passengers are now routinely invited to leave all their unwanted paper on the front row, where it is easy to collect. The results are good. By separating our waste in this way, we collect 40 tonnes of clean cardboard a year, which is worth 100,000 euros as a reusable resource. Similarly, collecting the covers from business class meals now results in 10kg of reusable aluminium per day.
KLM Catering Services has also reduced the amount of water it uses for dishwashing by installing water metres and eliminating the least water-efficient machines. Since 2009, we have reduced water use by 68%. Because 70% of the water used is heated, that reduction means a big saving in gas and electricity, too. Due to this we now use 20% less gas than we did in 2009.
Catering staff, cabin crews and passengers are all enthusiastic about recycling, but to do it successfully, they need an efficient system. Space is very limited on board, so empty cans and water bottles are put back in the same place on flights towards Schiphol. There are now also special cup collecting tubes on waste trolleys. Due to this innovation we are not only recycling, but also saving space in the bins, which is what helps the cabin crew.
Steps like this may seem small, but they add up. The production level at KLM catering has gone up by 15% since 2009, but the level of waste has not increased. The new way of working has a knock-on effect. Even safety has improved, because there are now fewer discarded materials on the floor. But we are not there yet. We can always do better.