Most of the waste generated on international flights is subject to strict sanitary controls, and the bulk is traditionally either landfilled or incinerated. However, some items can be recycled and Emirates has taken the first steps in this direction.
The airline is determined to improve on-board waste management, and flight attendants play a major role here. And now you have to quickly separate glass from plastic, metal from paper, collecting trays of food and waste during the flight.
The recyclable materials are stacked separately and then sent to a waste treatment plant in Dubai. Sanitary control still doesn't allow recyclables to be sent to anything other than the airline's home hub, a problem that virtually every airline faces.
Glass bottles are separated by color and crushed. The glass chips are then melted down and turned into brand new bottles.
Meanwhile, the plastic containers are ground into plastic flakes and sent to manufacturers to make brand new plastic products, including for Emirates Economy Quilts. Interestingly, each of them is made from 28 recycled bottles.
Surprisingly, Emirates organized a “separate collection” garbage only in 2019 after that. Moreover, the impetus for this was the idea of one of the flight attendants — he proposed this initiative during a regular meeting with management. The idea was realized within a few weeks.
Emirates did not say if it also recycles metal beverage cans.