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Etihad Airways Company’s Waste Management Approach Essay

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Updated: Jul 26th, 2021


Etihad Airways is a transportation company and the second-largest airline in the UAE. This organization was established in 2003 in Abu Dhabi. The airline utilizes various types of aircraft and consists of four different entities, including Etihad Airways, Etihad Airways Engineering, Etihad Flight Academy, and Etihad Airport Services Group. The company prides itself on the quality of the provided services and hospitality.

Moreover, one of the core values of the company is its determination to create a sustainable system that will minimize the impact of the company’s operations on the environment. Therefore, environmental management has a significant role in the company as it regulates such issues as fossil fuel dependence, the use of alternative energy sources, the sustainability of resources, and waste management. The position of the environmental analyst in this situation is of particular importance as this professional takes on the responsibility for determining the best ways to conserve the environment and creating a plan for the airline to follow.

Brief Description of the Position

The role of the environmental analyst in training is to learn about different approaches to environmental sustainability and understand the ways of resolving various environmental issues. The specifications of analysis and data assessment in this field should also be studied. Environmental analysts investigate the connections between human health, the company’s environmental impact, and the effects of climate change.

The environmental manager is concerned with various problems that may arise in the business. For example, fuel dependency on aircraft and the impact of high fuel consumption on the soil and water resources of the planet. Research of alternative biofuel production and utilization and its consequences for the environment is another area of importance that exists in environmental management. Other issues may include resource consumption rates, non-recyclable materials essential to the industry, and possible ways of reducing pollution.

Environmental Issue

The environmental issue investigated in this paper is the problem of waste management in Etihad Airways. The annual reports of this organization show that the airline’s management is concerned with the preservation of the environment. The presented issue is one of the main problems that occur at every stage of the company’s operations. Thus, the assessment of waste products can help the organization to create new solutions for responsible waste management. According to Achillas et al. (2013), efficient waste management requires companies to consider many criteria that can affect their waste production. Moreover, approaches to waste disposal should be brought to one’s attention as well.

Issue Analysis

The company presents the issue of waste management as one of the central concerns on its path to environmental sustainability. According to Laurent et al. (2014), waste production, influenced by the consumer habits of people, grows every year. Therefore, efficient waste management becomes necessary, as well. Etihad Airways produce various types of waste that fall under both recyclable and unrecyclable categories. The company’s efforts to reduce waste production are accompanied by different programs of upcycling and recycling.

First of all, one of the first initiatives that were implemented by the organization is recycling. According to the report by Etihad Airways (2016), their recycling program accounts for various products that are used during the flights by both the crew and clients. The report outlines that crew members collect “more than 120,000 plastic bottles, 12,000 aluminum cans, and 20,000 tonnes of glass every month for recycling” (Etihad Airways 2016, p. 23). Other products also include different paper items, namely newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets. The part of the company that provides catering services is one of the main producers of waste.

Items that cannot enter the recycling process undergo different procedures. The next initiative, created by environmental management, is upcycling. According to the report, the upcycling program was initiated in 2014 (Etihad Airways 2016). The resources that would go to waste before the implementation of this program were repurposed. For example, the tires from the organization’s aircraft are now being used in the company’s sustainable gardens as a part of the “rammed earth wall” (Etihad Airways 2016, p. 25).

However, in this report, the company does not go into detail about the materials that can be used in upcycling. Thus, it is possible to assume that company’s managers are still in the process of devising new ways of upcycling some types of products. While environmental management has many approaches to reducing organizations’ waste, some materials are not yet studied in full. Thus, it is possible that the company should consider looking for alternative resources that can be recycled or repurposed.

The upcycling and recycling programs were brought to a new level after the airline decided to change its uniforms. The amount of waste produced by old clothes could substantially damage the environment. Thus, the organization decided to recycle the uniforms and created an initiative called “Carpets from uniforms” (Etihad Airways 2016, p. 23). Etihad Airways collaborated with a recycling firm in order to reweave the old uniforms into carpets.

Similar repurposing of unrecyclable objects included making bags from old marketing banners. These bags were then sold to staff members. These programs show how the issue of unrecyclable waste can be solved through environmental management. However, not every material was repurposed by the company. Therefore, more efforts should be implemented to lessen the amount of waste further.

Excessive landscaping waste is another problem encountered by Etihad Airways. Degradable organic and vegetative materials compose one of the biggest portions of produced waste in such areas of service as catering and cargo handling. Although these materials can break down on their own, the amount of waste greatly affects the time it takes to decompose.

Thus, it is important to create an efficient system of biowaste treatment. For this purpose, in 2014, environmental managers of Etihad Airways decided to set up a composting facility that would utilize biowaste products by the company. According to the report, the bins for compost were created from “damaged wooden pallets from the airline’s cargo facility,” and various types of produced landscape waste, including “coffee granules from the canteens and coffee shop,” became the basis of the composting process (Etihad Airways 2016, p. 23).

Therefore, the management handled the issue of biowaste and incorporated items from catering services and cargo facilities as well. Some of the materials were also used in the sustainable garden that is mentioned above.

All in all, Etihad Airlines already has a vast range of solutions that were implemented in order to reduce pollution and manage waste. Such efforts as recycling, upcycling, and composting came from a professional team of environmental analysts. These people accounted for soil and air pollution and create initiatives that not only reduce waste but also help the company to reach its goal of sustainable development. However, some additional advice can be given in order to maximize the company’s efficiency and help it further reduce its environmental impact.

Possible Solutions

The problem of waste management should be looked at from multiple positions. First of all, the organization should consider lowering the production of waste. The generation of waste can significantly damage the environment and human health (Laurent et al. 2014).

Although companies can propose many solutions in order to recycle or reuse some materials, they should also think about choosing alternative solutions that do not involve the usage of excessive materials that will eventually go to waste. For example, the catering services of airlines produce large amounts of waste by using disposable tableware and cutlery. While the materials of this tableware are recyclable, the decision to use these materials should be reconsidered. Some of the cutlery can be made to be used multiple times. Alternatively, the organization can search for other materials for its disposable tableware. For instance, biodegradable plastic may become a part of the solution to this issue.

The company’s efforts in recycling involve many products that are used by the organization’s facilities. Etihad Airways should maintain these programs and implement them in every part of their system. For example, other Etihad Airways departments can follow the same rules of collecting recyclable materials, including glass, plastic, and paper. Furthermore, upcycling procedures should also be spread to other facilities.

Currently, Etihad Airways repurposes staff uniforms and advertisement banners as a part of this effort. To further advance this program, the airline can consider using other parts of their equipment for this initiative. The use of biodegradable waste as compost is another viable program that should be expanded.

The garden that Etihad Airways created as a part of its sustainability commitment showcases their use of a range of products that are hard to recycle in other ways. However, the utilization of such materials in this garden is an excellent solution for reducing waste. The airline should consider the possibility of creating more sustainable gardens throughout the facilities and implementing their compost programs and recycling programs to supply and furnish other gardens.

Other solutions may include working with the public and informing consumers about the importance of waste management. The airports and aircraft of Etihad Airways encounter many clients on a daily basis. These customers can participate in the company’s efforts to reduce their environmental impact. The organization can create various campaigns that will encourage people to bring products for recycling or choose materials that are easy to repurpose. Furthermore, products made from different materials such as advertisement banners and uniforms can be sold to clients and other individuals in order to utilize more old items and increase waste reusability. Moreover, these products from recycled items can help the company to raise awareness of this issue and promote waste management.


While the issue of waste generation remains one of the central problems in many industries, Etihad Airways seems to have a multidimensional system of programs that assess the company’s waste levels and propose many solutions to reduce the company’s environmental impact. The organization has multiple recycling and upcycling initiatives that allow it to move towards environmental sustainability. All in all, all programs of the company should be maintained and expanded to other parts of the Etihad Airways system. Furthermore, the company should consider engaging the public in their efforts in order to raise awareness and reach out to more people. It is safe to assume that environmental analysts of Etihad Airways do everything to move towards the goal of sustainability.

Reference List

Achilles, C, Moussiopoulos, N, Karagiannidis, A, Banias, G & Perkoulidis, G 2013, ‘The use of multi-criteria decision analysis to tackle waste management problems: a literature review,’ Waste Management & Research, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 115-129.

Etihad Airways 2016, CSR progress report. Web.

Laurent, A, Clavreul, J, Bernstad, A, Bakas, I, Niro, M, Gentil, E, Christensen, TH & Hauschild, MZ 2014, ‘Review of LCA studies of solid waste management systems – part II: methodological guidance for better practice,’ Waste Management, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 589-606.

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