Lufthansa and Frankfurt operator Fraport have announced plans to recycle four million plastic bottles this year, equating to 72 tonnes of recycled material.
The companies worked with drinks firm Hassia Mineralquellen to test a closed loop recycling project in late 2021, and have now transferred the system to regular operations at Frankfurt airport.
The initiative will see fully recyclable PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles collected and handed over to Hassia Mineralquellen, which will then integrate them into its own recycling process.
The recovered granulate is then used to make new bottles, with 100 per cent of the bottles recycled.
Lufthansa said that around 60 percent of the waste weight from an aircraft is accounted for by returned PET bottles and their contents, adding that based on current air traffic volumes it expects to collect around four million bottles for recycling this year.
The carrier added that based on flight movements and load factors for pre-pandemic 2019, the project could collect up to ten million PET bottles per year in the future.
Airlines are increasingly look to decrease the use (and up the recycling rate of) plastics inflight – Delta recently announced initiatives to reduce onboard single-use plastic consumption by approximately 4.9 million pounds per year, while last year Alaska Airlines launched “the US industry’s first water service free of single-use plastic bottles and plastic cups”.
Easyjet last year also announced plans to roll out new cabin crew and pilot uniforms made from recycled plastic bottles.