Waste reduction and recycling strategies for the in-flight services in the airline industry

Xiangdong Li*, Chi Sun Poon, Shung Cheng Lee, Shan Shan Chung, F. Luk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Air transport is one of the world's fastest-growing industries. Today's worldwide tourism and international exchange of goods and services would not be possible without aircraft. Solid waste management and disposal is one of the most significant issues in the environmental management of the airline industry. In this study, a waste composition analysis was conducted for in-flight service waste, and potential waste minimisation measures were evaluated. The total in-flight waste was estimated to be up to 500 kg per flight, including food waste, and galley and cabin waste. The waste composition analysis showed that paper (mainly newspaper, meal menu cards, etc.) was the largest component, ranging from 32 to 71% by weight of the total galley and cabin waste. Another major component was plastic items. Transparent polystyrene drinking cups and food covers accounted for up to 13% of the total weight. Aluminium cans accounted for up to 4% of the total waste. These recyclable materials can be sorted on board to facilitate the waste reduction and recycling programme. The proposed on board sorting and collection programmes can achieve a recycling rate of as much as 45-58% of the total galley and cabin waste from in-flight services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-99
Number of pages13
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics

User-Defined Keywords

  • Airline industry
  • Environmental management
  • Food waste
  • Recycling
  • Solid waste
  • Waste composition


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