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Sustainability Series: How can airports reduce their plastic waste?
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Sustainability Series: How can airports reduce their plastic waste?

As plastic continues to plague the planet, large organisations are trying to reduce single-use plastics. But are airports doing their bit?

As global travellers, barely a day goes by when we don’t see a story in the media, or experience first hand, the blight of plastic on our planet – its effect on wildlife, rising litter levels in our rivers and on our beaches, and the emergence of microplastics in some fish and seafood.

A prime contributor to plastic pollution is the single use drinks bottle – of the 13 billion plastic bottles used each year in the UK, 7.7 billion are plastic water bottles1 and consumption of water in plastic bottles has doubled in the last 15 years2. Only just over half of these bottles are recycled, while the rest are put into landfill, burnt or leak into the environment and oceans each day. Plastic bottles can take up to 450 years to break down once they reach the sea. Many of the popular bottled water brands consumed are also transported hundreds of miles from their source, contributing to the 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere every year by the bottled water industry in the UK.

The travel industry is taking note – Thomas Cook pledged in November 2018 to remove 70 million single-use plastics from its resorts within 12 months, making it one of the world’s largest holiday operators to do so, and the world’s first plastic-free flight took to the skies just after Christmas. Operated by Hi Fly, a Portuguese airline…

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