By 2030, airlines is estimated to produce 10 millions tons of waste annually.

Even the most well-packaged foods are being thrown away once the flight ended due to hygiene, freshness and food safety issues, leading to excessive food waste.

Hence, to tackle this growing problem of airline waste and the increasing number of food waste globally, various airlines has started to take initiatives to reduce their food waste production.

Even though this statistic includes waste like single-use plastic, a large portion of it comes from food service. So how can airlines reduce their food waste production?

Pre-ordering Meals.

The most common thing that airlines are offering now to fight food waste is the ability to pre-order meals to reduce the amount of unnecessary food to be boarded on the flight. Being able to know how much food to prepare for the flight will ensure that the central kitchen do not overproduce meals and food waste can be reduced.

Even though not all airlines are doing this now, more are joining this initiative of getting their customers to pre-order meals to cut costs as well as reduce food waste.

Recycling and Donating.

The Cathay Pacific Group has joined Hong Kong Airport Authority’s food waste recycling scheme in 2011 – collecting food waste for recycling. 2 years in this program, they took another step towards reducing food waste and started to donate the excess food to charity, with a total of 234 tons of food collected and donated in 2016 alone.

Extending Shelf Life.

SATS, the main caterer for Changi Airport, invested in new technology to extend the shelf life of cooked food. Through pasteurization and sterilization, the meals can be stored up to 90 days – a much longer shelf life as compared to the usual 24 to 48 hours.

By doing so, SATS ensures that even if exceed food is being produced, the food can be kept for a longer time, and still be safe for consumption.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Singapore Airlines plans to automate data collection and leverage on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to know consumers’ consumption better and reduce cabin waste – a step that we hope more airlines will follow suit to reduce cabin waste together.

Baby steps to a Brighter Future.

With advancements in technology, there are definitely more things that can be done to aid in the reduction of food waste produced by airlines. Despite the fact that this reduction may take time for the effects to be seen, these baby steps may very well be the ones leading us to the right direction of food waste reduction!