If you are like me – you hate using plastic utensils, coffee cups or plastic packaging that is single use then ends up in the trash. In your own home and business you can influence how much plastic is used but not when sitting on an airplane. You very well may ask yourself where does airplane waste go once it has been finished with?


When you are on a long haul flight – meal time is one of the few things that can break up the never ending drudgery – and whether you complain about the lack of flavour in the food – or just comfort eat to escape the boredom – it would be good to know where does airplane waste go once the plane lands.


In today’s blog we will look at the facts and figures concerning this question – and also at the issues of quarantine waste in Australia.


About Waster:


At Waster – we provide low cost waste and recycling services such as garbage disposal to small and medium Aussie companies. I have to admit that we do not have any airlines or airports as customers! – we are more focused on offices, medical practices, cafes, factories, restaurants etc.


However – we often look at quarantine waste – i.e. waste that has come in from overseas either in cargo, planes or ships.


Our main differentiator is our customer service and our flexible 30 day agreements. We provide all services you may require from general waste to sanitary bins. As we do not operate landfills – we are aligned with you in seeking to reduce dumping at landfill and save you money (as recycling is a great way to save lots of money).


If you require waste and recycling services for your business – you can press the button below to check all our bin options and prices. You can even book online today!:


So – where does airplane waste go then?


The sad reality is that the vast majority of waste that is taken off planes that come into Australia – ends up in a quarantine landfill. A quarantine facility is one that has strict legislation from the local EPA.


This legislation will dictate how the waste has to be stored and transported from the collection location i.e. the airport to the landfill. It will dictate which roads the trucks can drive on and will seek to avoid agricultural land and animals etc.


This is because of the unique habitat in Australia – and the need to protect them. This is one of the reasons why Australia does not import as much fruit as other countries – and why say banana prices can be very volatile in Australia.


Where does airplane waste go


How much waste does air traffic produce?


The IATA explains:


“The average passenger generates 1.4 kilograms of waste per flight, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).”


“In 2017, the total amount of passenger waste was 5.7 million tonnes, IATA says. This figure includes toilet waste, but the bulk of it is paper, cardboard and plastic.”


“For flights landing in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States, waste is often incinerated because of the risk of transmission of animal diseases.”


Because of the strict rules in Australia  – pretty much everything goes to quarantine landfill.


How can this be improved?


There are really two ways we can improve these outcomes – which to be honest are exactly the same as those on dry land – recycle more food waste (or use it to generate biogas) and reduce the usage of plastic.


Some good things are happening in this space – for example, the ABC reports that:


“On the domestic front, Qantas also donates leftover catering from domestic flights to the food rescue organisation OzHarvest.”


For reduction of plastic – check out our blogs on reducing plastics in supermarket aisles – lots of the same theory applies.


Another potential solution is do what the Swedes do and incinerate rubbish for electricity generation.



Conclusion on where does airplane waste go?:


In 2018 – the answer to where does airplane waste go – is unfortunately mostly to the landfill.


Things are changing – but in reality lots of the same solutions apply in the air as on the ground – reduce plastic, recycle food and potential incinerate.


Quarantine law is vital for Australia’s biosecurity – and so will not change anytime soon. A reduction in plastic usage is the easiest and smartest way forward.


Whilst the answer to where does airplane waste go may not be great for the environment – it is nice to know that at least the airplane itself gets recycled – check out the informative video below!: