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Resources & wastes

Our Approach

Sustainable sourcing, waste management, and careful consideration of resources usage are the three key pillars underpinning our effort in embedding an environmentally responsible mindset in our culture and sustainable practices in our operations. As a leading global airline employing thousands and carrying millions of customers each year, the considered management of our environmental impacts is an imperative. From procuring to ultimate disposal, our cradle-to-cradle approach allows us to tackle sustainability challenges in a more systemic way.


We have developed our Supplier Code of Conduct which includes our standards for business ethics. We have collaborated closely with our suppliers on sourcing matters, such as increasing the use of sustainable materials, utilising regenerated waste materials and procuring recycled plastic products.

We require the procurement process of all our goods is conducted in full compliance with relevant laws, tax regimes and regulations that govern the respective transactions, and with full account in terms of our Anti-Bribery, Anti-Trust and Data Protection policies.

We also developed a balance-rated scorecard for procurement to measure suppliers’ performance in six different areas: Costs, Innovation, Satisfaction, Quality, Assurance of supply and Sustainability.

Resources and waste management

Waste is one of the most concerning environmental problems based on the Group’s stakeholder engagement results. Recent environmental issues, such as the shortage of landfill sites and the implementation of the municipal solid waste charging scheme in Hong Kong, have made waste reduction a more pressing issue for our stakeholders and local communities.

Our stakeholders – especially our employees – have expressed concerns about how much we have done about waste reduction. This has highlighted the importance of enhancing communications and training on waste reduction and recycling programmes, continuously reviewing our operations, and using digitisation to improve our management. For this reason, our revitalised Sustainable Development Strategy has a clear focus on product usage and waste management.

To learn more about our waste reduction journey, please read our Sustainable Development Report.

Reducing impacts of inflight products

1) Inflight cocktail snacks (roasted peanuts) are produced from certified palm oil, which helps minimise environmental impacts such as deforestation rights of indigenous people.

2) Napkins are made from 70% sugarcane and 30% wood pulp since 2016.

3) Reusable plastic cutlery from Cathay Pacific flights is sorted, washed andreused to minimise our single-use plastic waste.

4) To support protection of the marine ecosystem, we purchased 417 tonnes of certified sustainable seafood for our inflight meals in 2018.

5) In 2018, we used over 38 tonnes of hydroponic vegetables locally grown in Hong Kong.

6) Introduced in 2012, carpets in our aircraft are made from regenerated nylon waste materials such as discarded fishing nets, fabric and carpets.

7) Since 2011, we have used biodegradable plastic for the packaging of blankets, inflight magazines, and headphones.

8) We have introduced blankets made entirely from recycled plastic bottles for our Economy Class passengers. Each year over 450,000 pieces are used. Unopened blankets are reused on subsequent flights.

Rethinking the use of plastic

Plastics are versatile, cost-effective and lighter than most materials, so it is widely used by the aviation industry, as the reduction of in-flight weight leads to less fuel use and carbon emissions. However, plastics take a long time to degrade and are clearly harmful to the environment if treated irresponsibly.

Over the years, we have taken different initiatives aiming to reduce the negative impact from the use of plastic in our operations. In 2018, we have adopted a new strategy towards single-use plastic (SUP) – we call it the 4Rs, which stand for Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rethink. Going beyond the first three Rs, we are fundamentally rethinking how and why we use SUP: at every stage, every location, and every business unit of our operations, aiming to ultimately remove and replace them as much as possible.

Reducing Food Waste

Onboard and in our lounges, we aim to provide quality meals to our passengers. At the same time we aim to manage this process in a way that supports local producers and minimises waste and carbon footprint.

We strive to reduce food waste at source by bringing the meal delivery cut-off time as close to flight departure time as possible. By shortening the cut-off time, we can more precisely gauge how many meals are required on board, thus reducing wastage.

We also worked to redistribute our surplus food to communities in need. Our catering services unit has donated 434 tonnes of food to Feeding Hong Kong, a local food bank in 2018 and over 4.6 tonnes of food to Food Angel, another charity that prepares hot meals for senior citizens in Hong Kong.

Retired aircraft

To stay competitive, we bring in new aircraft to make our fleet more fuel-efficient and technologically advanced to better meet our customers’ rising expectation. We began working with a company specialising in end-of-life solutions to recycle these aircraft in 2015. Under the Airbus’ Process for Advanced Management of End-of-Life Aircraft (PAMELA) initiative, our retired aircraft were systematically recycled with up to 90% of their components reused or recovered. In the aircraft recycling process, hazardous waste, mainly the lubrication oil, is sent to specialised waste handlers for proper disposal.

To learn more about our plastic reduction journeys, please read our latest sustainability report.