Emirates has recycled more than 500,000 kilograms of plastic and glass over the course of 2022, by collecting discarded bottles onboard for repurposing.
500,000 kilograms is almost the same weight as a fully loaded Emirates flagship A380 aircraft.
Onboard every flight that lands in Dubai, the Emirates Cabin Crew work hard to quickly separate glass and plastic bottles, before they are sent to a recycling plant in Dubai.
The glass is separated by colour and crushed. The ‘cullet’ or recycled glass that is ready to be re-melted is then sent to glass manufacturers in the UAE to include in their batch mix for new bottles.
The plastic bottles are cleaned, chopped into flakes, melted into pellets, and sent to manufacturers to make other plastic products.
As a result, Emirates and Emirates Flight Catering, divert thousands of kilograms of glass and plastic away from landfill each year.
The glass and plastic recycling initiative onboard was suggested by environmentally conscious Emirates Cabin Crew in 2019, as part of regular webinars and events where they are given a platform to share feedback and encouraged to share innovative ideas to key departments.
The proposal was well-received and implemented within weeks.
Emirates airline has several other initiatives, which focus on repurposing plastic or using sustainable materials where possible.
For the last six years, Emirates has offered cozy sustainable blankets made from recycled plastic bottles to Economy passengers on long haul flights. The soft and warm blankets are made from 28 recycled plastic bottles.
The bottles are shredded into plastic chips before being turned into yarn, creating a fleece material.
The fine thread is then woven into soft blankets. Over the six years since the initiative was introduced, Emirates blankets have prevented more than 95 million plastic bottles from going to landfill.
As the largest sustainable blanket programme on board in the airline industry, the manufacturing process of using recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) also reduces energy emissions by around 70 per cent.