Moving from a waste mindset to a circular economy mindset
Google search “is being sustainable more expensive?” and thousands of results will appear touting statistics like 72% of consumers are concerned about the environmental impact of waste production,  but 80% believe that eco-friendly products cost more  and that the “Average American Can’t Afford to Buy Green”.  One Bloomberg News writer even recently wrote “there’s a lot of innovation going on with sustainability right now, it’s just not really affordable. It’s hard to scale when you’re paying more for a green product.” 
With ICAO and ACI estimating that global airlines lost nearly US$400B in revenues in 2020 and are projected to lose another US$182B in the first half of 2021, “going green” or implementing a sustainability initiative may not feel affordable and may not be a top priority.
We’re here to change that.
Transforming aviation recycling systems from a focus on reducing waste to executing a circular economy could pump millions into our industry at a much needed time.
could increase substantially by boosting recycling capacities by as little as 5%. Even higher gains would be seen by implementing circular models
could be added to the bottom line by moving towards a circular economy focused on retrieving and repurposing waste materials currently destined for landfill or incineration.
is a strong sustainability and financial case for airlines to develop circular economies based on reducing waste and repurposing materials.
Altering an airline’s take-make-dispose consumption pattern would not only help improve the financial situation, it can also have significant environmental benefits.
Driving a Circular Economy
Recent decades have seen significant increases in the way we use plastics, which has resulted in rapidly increasing waste and emissions globally. The capacity of the global ecosystem to absorb this growing amount of waste is limited. Additionally, the global climate change imperative necessitates a dramatic decrease in plastic waste and emissions.
The direction needed has to focus on innovation and bringing together industry stakeholders to explore circular economy opportunities across the whole supply chain, recognizing how waste can be avoided, and identifying materials that can be reused or recycled. New technologies and products will emerge from adopting a circular economy approach. A circular economy does not happen spontaneously but relies on support, experimentation and innovation.
To initiate and sustain a circular economy, airlines need to:
large-scale changes to how products are manufactured, with a focus on reusable and re-purposable products, and with an increased use of recycled materials ove new materials
targeted investments in next generation sorting and separation technology at catering facilities, enhanced infrastructure for processing waste plastics.
significant changes to usage, onboard services, consumption and disposal practices to support the circular economy.
capacity to generate high-value recycled commodities from offloaded plastic waste.
the leadership, foresight and innovative mindset to implement a circular economy.
the commitment and persistence to navigate the various pitfalls that will present themselves.