Aircraft and engine factories are large industrial sites dealing with materials and processes that require specialist handling, both in production and as waste. Those companies operating in civil aerospace around the world are showing industrial leadership, with many of them exceeding best practice in the manufacturing process. Importantly, a number are also insisting on such standards throughout the production supply chain as well.

Engine maker Pratt & Whitney has launched aggressive goals to further improve the sustainability of its factories, suppliers and products by 2025. The goals, backed with an investment of $60 million in more than 800 environmental projects, focus on waste, energy, water, safety and wellness, materials, suppliers and products. By 2025, Pratt & Whitney aims to have zero waste in its factories, with 100% of waste recycled. Energy use will be optimised and there will be a reduction of greenhouse gases by 80% (greenhouse gases have already been reduced by 30% in factories). The company is aiming for no water waste and a reduction of water consumption by 80%. In terms of safety, the goal is for employees to be injury-free and have best-in-class wellness programmes. Pratt & Whitney engines will be 100% recyclable at the end of their life. And suppliers will have world class safety rates, meet aggressive resource conservation targets and be 100% green certified.

Boeing and aluminium supplier Kaiser have recently announced the instigation of a closed-loop recycling system for aluminium, which will see around ten million kilograms of offcut and scrap metal a year  being re-used in the industry – the largest such scheme of its type. A five-year environment audit has revealed that Boeing reduced hazardous waste by 18%, CO2 by 9%, energy-use by 3% and water intake by 2%, all despite employing 13,000 more people and opening a major manufacturing facility. In 2012, 79% of the solid waste Boeing generated was diverted from landfills – a 36% improvement since 2007.

In January 2007, Airbus became the first aerospace enterprise to receive ISO14001 environmental certification covering all of the company’s production sites, products and services throughout a lifecycle approach. The Airbus blue5 initiative has a set of stringent targets for the company’s manufacturing sites around the world to meet by 2020. In 2012, the programme had already resulted in, among other things, a 29.7% reduction in energy consumption; 43.3% reduction in water consumption; 46.2% reduction in non-recycled waste production; and a 34.2% reduction in CO2.