The programme wants to motivate passengers to use these kinds of plastics as little as possible or, ideally, not at all. Prague Airport will gradually reduce its own consumption of plastic packaging and is involving its business partners in the initiative. In this way, the airport will expand its environmental protection activities, which have so far focused mainly on reducing emissions, noise protection, and the protection of ground and surface water. At the same time, Prague Airport joins other European airports in looking for ways to reduce plastic waste.
“Although the European Parliament has passed a ban on the use of single-use plastics that will come into effect in 2021, Prague Airport is already coming up with its own initiatives now, and it will gradually be implementing specific measures to reduce single-use plastics. Among other things, the aim is to motivate passengers to reduce the environmental impacts of their travels, for example, by choosing reusable bottles for beverages or, if they buy beverages in single-use plastic bottles, by not throwing them away but emptying them before the security check and continuing to use them,” Soňa Hykyšová, Environmental Protection Manager of Prague Airport, stated. A new system of sinks and drinking fountains can help the passengers do just this. Passengers can simply pour water out of their bottle into a sink before the security check, then once they have passed through security they can refill their empty bottle with drinking water free of charge using one of the 13 drinking fountains available throughout the terminals. Passengers can already try out the first sink in Terminal 2 now, and Prague Airport is preparing the installation of several more sinks in the future.
Prague Airport has also restricted its offer of plastic advertising items and is reducing plastics in its internal catering as well. In its offices, boardrooms, and events, Prague Airport will offer fresh water in carafes, often complemented by mint or other herbs, instead of water in plastic bottles. Glasses will be offered instead of disposable plastic cups, and single-serving coffee creamers will be replaced by milk jugs. Also, a restriction of plastic bags is being tested with the introduction of new rubbish bins that support waste recycling. “Prague Airport has also commissioned a study that aims to help select suitable alternatives to replace single-use plastics. That is why when selecting alternatives, we will be focusing on the entire life cycle of a product rather than only on one aspect such as biological degradability. Our objective is to choose options that are actually more environmentally friendly than plastic options. However, plastic is not always the worst option as has been gradually proved,” Soňa Hykyšová added.
Prague Airport is also encouraging its tenants to cut down on single-use plastics. Lagardère Travel Retail, which leases airport restaurants and refreshment stands, was the first to join the initiative, and it plans to introduce returnable cups subject to a small deposit for the consumption of beverages in its airport business in 2020.
Why is this initiative important?
Based on data from the European Commission, plastics account for more than 80% of marine waste, most of which are single-use plastics such as plastic bottles, disposable cutlery, plates, and straws. These plastics, which decompose extremely slowly, then endanger the lives of not only animals and plants but also local people as well as the attractiveness of natural and tourist locations. According to a study by Masaryk University in Brno entitled The Relationship of the Czech Public toward Nature and the Environment, however, it is attractive nature that is the principal reason that Czechs take holidays, and the Czech Republic has the highest score in this area of all member states of the European Union.