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IATA and ASF to develop standard cabin waste composition audit program

image credit: IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is collaborating with the Aviation Sustainability Forum (ASF) to launch a standardized Cabin Waste Composition Audit (CWCA), with the ASF Cabin Waste Composition Auditing Platform to be launched in September 2024.

CWCA audits have already been trialed in two waves, covering 25 flights (short, medium, and long-haul) at Singapore’s Changi Airport in November 2023 and April 2024.

ASF conducted the audits based on a methodology developed by IATA. Preliminary results indicate that the sector is generating over 3.6 million metric tonnes of cabin and catering waste annually, with 65% being food and beverage waste. Untouched meals account for 18% of all waste.

Audit data will guide the airline industry and policy makers in their efforts to reduce the levels of waste produced and improve circularity by identifying opportunities for re-use and re-cycling.

Previous IATA research identified the lack of a standardized methodology with respect to conducting cabin waste audits and, as a result, harmonized data is not available to underpin decision-making by policymakers, airlines, and caterers regarding waste-related issues.

A standardized audit will help solve these issues and enable the sector to demonstrate progress towards waste reduction and improved circularity.

Marie Owens Thomsen, IATA’s Senior Vice President Sustainability and Chief Economist said: “Managing and reducing waste is an important component of aviation’s overall sustainability.

“Obtaining standardized and comparable data regarding the composition and quantity of waste from flights will help the industry to reduce the waste it generates.

“Better data will also help policymakers to harmonize regulations, which in turn can help optimize the industry’s capability to sort, re-cycle and safely re-use waste that cannot be avoided.

“Working with ASF in developing this audit program is a significant step forward in improving the circularity of the sector.”

Matt Crane, ASF’s Founder said: “The ASF’s mission is to help the aviation sector reduce the levels of cabin waste generated and achieve higher levels of waste recovery and circularity.

“Working with IATA to develop a cabin waste composition auditing standard for the sector is a significant step forward.

“Effectively managing cabin waste is a challenge that can be solved with the backing of data. It is the responsibility of the sector and its regulators to come together, understand the problem and align on the needed solutions”.