Air New Zealand has received permission to re-use untouched snacks and beverages from international flights arriving in Auckland as part of an initiative to reduce landfill.
The airline has received permission from New Zealand authorities to distribute 40 inflight products on future flights that were previously sent to landfill because of New Zealand’s tough biosecurity controls.
They can only be reused if they are removed from an aircraft untouched and sealed.
Previously, New Zealand quarantine rules had required all unused in-flight product to be sent to landfill to be burned or buried.
The airline expects the initiative, called Project Green, to save about 150 tonnes from landfill annually. It has already diverted 13 tonnes — including 266,000 plastic cups, 480kg of sugar packets and 3.5 tonnes of bottled water — in its first month.
Products approved so far include sealed beverages and unopened snacks and the airline says more items will be added in coming months.
The program, developed over 18 months with provider LSG Sky Chefs and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries, comes as airlines globally grappled with 5.2m tonnes of inflight waste in 2016.
The airline says the project has required a change in onboard processes, particularly for cabin crew who play a key role by returning unused items to stowage and separating goods correctly.
“Project Green is an outstanding example how airlines can work with border regulators to develop solutions to reduce cabin waste without comprising quarantine controls.” Air New Zealand Head of Operational Delivery Alan Gaskin said.
AirNZ also announced it will plug in its jets to gates to provide them with power rather than use on-board auxiliary power units, small jet engines in the tail of the aircraft.
It estimates that using electricity from the gate will save about 4500 tonnes annually in carbon emissions.
Aircraft are plugged directly into electrical power at gates at both Auckland and Christchurch international airports. AirNZ is also in talks with Wellington airport to introduce a similar system.
“In the first month of trialing this new process in Auckland with just its Boeing 777 and 787-9 long-haul fleets, the airline saved 475,000kg of carbon and 188,000 litres of fuel – more than the volume of fuel required to fly a Boeing 777-300 from Auckland to Los Angeles,’’ the airline said.