Separating waste on board, how does that work?

You know the drill: you’ve barely finished enjoying your in-flight meal or a delicious drink and the stewardesses show up to collect your waste. You hand it to them and the trolley is pushed further down the narrow aisle. But what happens to everyone’s waste after it is collected? And did you know that waste can be separated on board too?

Limited space
Space is limited on board, and the trolley that gets pushed down the aisle is small. However, several airlines still manage to separate their waste. There is no space for five different types of containers, like the ones you have at home or at work. As a result, materials that are recyclable all go in one big bag.

Upon arrival at Schiphol, SUEZ removes this bag from the aircraft and the waste separation process really starts. SUEZ employees separate plastic, paper, glass, etc. This great work leads to the creation of new products. For all you know, the cup you use on the plane might be ‘second hand’!

While it might seem as though everything goes into one big bag, that is not actually the case. Only waste that has been in contact with animal products such as dairy or meat cannot be separated but must be incinerated instead. This was legally established by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). Plastic, glass, paper and PET bottles are collected separately from the other waste.

No waste
We like this idea. Circular economy is an important part of our journey to a sustainable civil aviation sector. We want to be waste free by 2030, which is why we don’t look at waste as waste but instead as a raw material that continues to have value and can be reused to create a new product. For ourselves and for others. Effort is required, but it’s doable. Even on a small plane.