MUSCAT, July 9 – The use-and-throw plastic cups used onboard flights pose a serious threat to environment. The quantum of pollution on Oman’s soil: 20,000 cups a day, which tantamount to 20 kg of plastic waste that end up in the environment. “Plastic waste produced by airlines that use the country’s international gateways is something that is often overlooked,” said an aviation official on condition of anonymity.
“These airlines, which can easily replace plastic with either paper glasses, plates or reusable cutlery, are dumping not less than 20 kg of plastic waste,” he said.
Waste disposed by flights include discarded packaging, half-eaten meals, soft drink cans, plastic water bottles, miniature bottles, napkins, plastic toothbrushes and the like.
Waste onboard airlines is a worldwide problem.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airlines around the world generated 5.2 million tonnes of waste last year.
By 2030, they are expected to produce 10 million tonnes annually.
The catering facility of a leading airline in the region, for instance, prepares some 180,000 meals to service its more than 400 daily flights around the globe.
And remember, all foods are packed in plastic containers that are meant for one-time use.
According to Mohammed Shijas Ahmed, a researcher in environmental protection, the problem is complicated by a
number of factors.
“In-flight catering is a labyrinthine process regulated by international health regulations. It doesn’t end there.
“The state’s environment policies, waste management policies and space constraints of carrying food onboard are some of the factors adding to pollution by airlines,” he says.
The IATA and experts suggest that in order to reduce environment pollution, airlines should aim at safety, hygiene and freshness in foods distributed onboard.