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Tracking and
Preventing Waste

Through robust measurement and tracking we can identify opportunities to reduce waste and improve recycling rates. Our digital waste monitoring platform enables us to collate waste data and track performance at site level, so we know where we need to focus action.

As well as increasing engagement with colleagues to improve recycling and the re-use of products, we also have more than 200 crew colleagues who are War on Waste champions. They act as experts in reducing and recycling onboard waste and we’re working towards increasing the size of this network across our airline.

We’ve also introduced a module on sustainability best practices and recycling to the crew service day, ensuring all our crew are equipped with the knowledge of how to reduce onboard waste.

Photo of waste being removed on a plane

Removing Single-Use Plastics

We’re reducing single-use plastics (SUP) throughout our operations. When we established our SUP baseline in 2022, we tracked that 2113 tonnes of SUP are used across the customer experience annually, and that 40% of our single use items are completely made of SUP. We know we have a lot to do to remove SUP items, and we’re working closely with suppliers to identify more sustainable alternatives, such as bamboo and paper where possible.

From removing plastic blanket wrappings to introducing amenity kits and duvets made from recycled plastic, we’re continuing to find innovative solutions that are better for the environment.

Examples of our SUP reduction

  • Plastic wrap from blankets

    We’ve found that by removing plastic wrapping from our World Traveller Plus blankets and replacing it with FSC certified paper bands, we’re saving 20 tonnes of SUP a year.

  • Plastic cutlery removed in WT

    By removing plastic cutlery in our World Traveller cabins, as part of EU legislation, and replacing it with birchwood, we’re saving 120 tonnes of SUP a year.

  • Additional Investment

    In 2023, we gained approval to invest more than £1.65 million to further reduce SUP items, including the packaging around our headsets, blankets and hot towels, and to evolve our catering products.

Plate of food

Reducing Food Waste

Reducing food waste reduces pressure on natural resources, water supplies and land where food is grown, as well as cutting greenhouse gas emissions from production, transportation and disposal. We’re also working to influence international policy and regulation to allow more sustainable ways to divert food waste from landfill and incineration.

Cat 1 IATA joint statement

A significant obstacle to preventing airlines from recycling or donating waste food is the legislation on International Catering Waste. This is because it requires all waste food to be disposed of in specific ways including by incineration or deep landfill. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has previously commissioned an investigation into the risks of cabin food waste, found that there is a negligible risk either to human or animal health from this waste. We’re actively engaging other airlines on this issue and have signed a joint statement which advises that the European Commission undertake a risk assessment of International Catering Waste rules. The adoption of a smarter International Catering Waste (ICW) regulation would result in less cabin waste, more material recovery and improved customer satisfaction.

In 2023 we increased the destinations where we are able to recycle, adding all UK mainline outstations to our network. We also worked with IATA and numerous other airlines as part of the TransAtlantic trial, becoming the first airline to be permitted to recycle into New York. Whilst this was a first step, it has the potential to drive a significant shift for British Airways and airlines globally.

In 2024, we’ll establish our food waste baseline, streamline our data collection, and investigate how we can make further improvements. This will include the collection and recycling of wine – diverting this from the Cat 1 liquid waste.

Circular Economy Principles

We’re looking for opportunities across our supply chain to refine our product specifications, to keep our resources in use for as long as possible through innovative product design and to re-use and recycle through partnerships with our suppliers.

In 2023, we introduced a new uniform for our crew. We recycled or repurposed our old uniforms and materials where possible, with 3,500 m of fabric repurposed as school uniform for children in Bangladesh, and 2115 items debranded and donated to two London based charities. All manufacturers of our new uniform are members of the ‘Better Cotton’ initiative and more than 90% of all garments are produced using more sustainable fabric made from blends of recycled polyester.

  • 3,500m

    of fabric repurposed as school uniform for children

  • >90%

    of all garments are produced using sustainable fabric

Yearly Statistics

  • Onboard waste at hub airports

    Onboard catering waste including volumes later recycled and recovered at Heathrow and Gatwick.

    Measurement: ‘000 tonnes

    17,837 9,817 8,098 19,261 18,471
  • Onboard waste per passenger at hub airports

    Onboard catering waste generated per passenger, including volumes later recycled and recovered at Heathrow and Gatwick. Passenger numbers are based on those inbound and outbound passengers who have their waste processed at London Heathrow and Gatwick.

    Measurement: Kg/passenger

    0.47 1.00 0.95 0.73 0.54
  • Overall waste

    Includes waste from all streams – onboard, office, cargo and maintenance waste – and an extrapolation of waste processed at overseas caterers.

    Measurement: ‘000 tonnes

    35,610 23,249 17,974 38,617 37,847
  • Overall re-used, recycled and recovered

    Proportion of waste re-used, recycled and recovered (excluding incineration, landfill and other disposal operations).

    Measurement: %

    15% 12% 18% 28% 23%