Change is coming to the world of air travel.
In just over three weeks’ time, plastic cutlery, drinking straws, take-away food packaging and polythene bags will start to disappear from cafés, restaurants and shops at the world’s busiest international airport.
The reason for this is Dubai Airports’ pledge in June 2019 to ban all single-use plastic from January 1, 2020.
With 90 million passengers passing through Dubai’s two airports – DXB and DWC – every year, consuming tens of thousands of plastic items from straws to water bottles to coffee lids on a daily basis – the plastic-free initiative presents a huge logistical challenge to the management team and to every business in their supply chain.
But with the UAE alone producing around 7 billion tonnes of plastic waste every year1 - it’s a challenge they fully intend to meet, rolling out the ban with a phased approach with the aim for completion scheduled by the end of the 2020.
Pressure is growing for corporations and individuals to act more responsibly and adopt more sustainable practices to fight against plastic pollution and preserve marine life. The changes happening on such a huge scale as a result of Dubai Airports’ ban could soon become a template for other major transportation hubs and organisations around the world to follow.
Already 95% of Dubai Airports’ commercial partners have signed the pledge to stop using disposable plastic in their outlets.
Notable amongst them is Costa Coffee, which has committed to replacing its plastic-lined cups with a 100% renewable, plant-based “smart” cup. The coffee giant sells over 2.6 million cups of coffee in Dubai’s airports a year – that alone has a great impact on change. This will be followed later next year by the introduction of a coffee cup lid made entirely from wood and paper fibre instead of single-use plastic.
Pret a Manger, McDonalds and Giraffe are also on board, alongside around 290 other retail and F&B outlets, and have started the process of eliminating consumer-facing plastic items from their concessions and replacing them with more sustainable alternatives in just 6 months.
New research commissioned by Dubai Airports highlights widespread public support for recycling initiatives.
In the UAE, over half (52%) of air travellers say they carry a reusable water bottle, and almost 1 in 2 (49%) say they will choose to eat in a restaurant to avoid plastic packaging and almost a third (32%) say they don’t buy items at the airport containing non-recyclable materials.
But it is clear that passengers feel airports could be doing more on the issue with 92% saying that they need to be more vocal about what they are doing to recycle waste.
GOOD TO KNOW:
• 5,500 tonnes of single use plastic is estimated to be generated at Dubai Airports each year
• Already changes are being made, with 29 metric tons of plastic bottles being recycled from the security check points so far this year (an average of 11,000 bottles per day)
• 254 tonnes of other single use plastic has been recycled so far this year
• So far, in total around 280 tonnes of single use plastic has been recycled in 2019