The travel agency TUI Nederland is market leader in the travel branch, organising the vacations for 1.7 million Dutch people every year. The organisation has its own airline, cruise ships, hotels and resorts. TUI is working hard to reduce plastic and is now faced with the next challenge: less plastic on aeroplanes.
Melvin Mak, as Manager of Sustainability, is responsible for the sustainability strategy of TUI in the Netherlands and Belgium. He further explains the challenge they face.
Melvin Mak: “Why is it actually necessary to use plastic on such a broad scale in the world today? This is what we are asking ourselves because there are many alternative solutions available, and new solutions are emerging all the time. A plastic straw for example, does not make your beverage taste better. It’s an obvious example, but one that does have great impact, certainly on the scale that we operate on. Straws can now even be made of grass and paper. And if someone really has to have a straw, we can easily offer a reusable, washable straw. And if plastic is really required, we can make sure that we process it properly.”
“We have already implemented sizable reductions in various segments of the company. In 2018, we already used 140 million fewer units of plastic, and we want to expand this to 250 million in 2020. We do this in different segments of the company, including aviation, cruise liners, hotels, and also in our excursion organisations and at our headquarters. It still isn’t perfect, we still have quite a task ahead of us. We need outside help, because we’re not plastic experts, of course.”
“One of our most current challenges is the use of plastic on our TUI flights. We have begun with the plastic cutlery packages on board, the packages for kids and the headsets that are provided. The blankets we pass out to passengers are also no longer wrapped in plastic but in FSC paper wrapping. This has resulted in 20 million units of plastic being phased out within our airline.”
“We are also still looking for solutions when it comes to our catering. The catering must follow strict requirements, everything must be hygienically packaged and sealed airtight, for example. Neither can it be too heavy, because this increases emissions. The bigger question that want to answer is: how can we continue to offer a quality, hygienic, safe catering service to our passengers without waste. Addressing the plastic issue is an important part of this.”