DUBAI UAE, 24 February 2023: Emirates has recycled more than 500,000 kg of plastic and glass throughout 2022 by collecting discarded bottles onboard for repurposing.

500,000 kg, or more than 550 tons, is almost the same weight as a fully loaded Emirates flagship A380 aircraft.

The cabin crew onboard every flight arriving in Dubai quickly separate glass and plastic bottles for recycling at a plant in Dubai.

The glass is separated by colour and crushed. This ‘cullet’ or recycled glass ready to be re-melted is then sent to glass manufacturers in the UAE to include in their batch mix for new bottles. The plastic bottles are cleaned, chopped into flakes, melted into pellets, and sent to manufacturers to make other plastic products. As a result, Emirates and Emirates Flight Catering divert thousands of kilograms of glass and plastic away from landfill each year.

The glass and plastic recycling initiative onboard was suggested by the environmentally conscious Emirates cabin crew in 2019 as part of regular webinars and events where they are given a platform to share feedback and encouraged to share innovative ideas with key departments. The proposal was well-received and implemented within weeks.

Emirates has several other initiatives which focus on repurposing plastic or using sustainable materials where possible;

Emirates blankets made from recycled plastic

Emirates has offered cosy sustainable blankets made from recycled plastic bottles to Economy passengers on long-haul flights for the last six years. The soft and warm blankets are made from 28 recycled plastic bottles. The bottles are shredded into plastic chips before turning into a yarn, creating a fleece material. The fine thread is then woven into soft blankets. Over the 6 years since the initiative was introduced, Emirates blankets have prevented more than 95 million plastic bottles from going to landfill. As the largest sustainable blanket programme on board in the airline industry, the manufacturing process of using recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) also reduces energy emissions by around 70%.

Prioritising responsible sourcing

Emirates has embedded an environmental requirement in the supplier code of conduct and considers the entire lifecycle of products from the design stage. For example, wooden tea and coffee stirrers, paper straws and inflight retail bags are made using wood and paper from responsibly managed forests.

Emirates reusable onboard amenity kits

Emirates’ Premium Economy and Economy Class range of amenity kits are complimentary for customers on long-haul flights and feature designs that represent the four essential elements of nature – fire, water, earth, and air. The pouches are reusable and made from washable kraft paper with bespoke art printed in non-toxic soy-based ink. The contents include a selection of durable travel essentials made from environmentally friendly materials. The toothbrush is made from a combination of wheat straw and plastic, and the socks and eyeshades are made from recycled plastic, in this case, rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate). The packaging used for the dental kit, socks and eyeshades is made from 90 per cent rice paper.

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(Your Stories: Emirates)