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When exposed to certain foods or fluids, recyclables arriving on international flights are required to be quarantined due to potential contaminants. As a result, almost every country worldwide prescribes sterilization, incineration, or other disposal methods for these contaminated recyclables.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Web-Only Document 46: Recovering International Recyclables from In-Flight Service finds that supply chains, advanced stakeholder engagement, value chain collaboration, and a globally standardized and adopted approach may be needed to increase and better monetize the recovery of Non-Contaminated Recyclable Materials (NCRM).

With a multi-stakeholder approach, airports, airlines, and flight kitchens, along with support partners, can affect the recovery efficiency of NCRM. Through these collaborative efforts, gaps in supply and collection chains can be addressed.

Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Recovering International Recyclables from In-Flight Service. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

52 pages |  8.5 x 11 |  DOI:

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