If successful, the new product could replace the 11 million non-compostable plastic bags which are currently handed out in the terminal every year. Since 2006, it has been a legal requirement for passengers to place all liquids, aerosols and gels in containers of no more than 100ml into clear, re-sealable bags in their hand luggage. London Stansted has worked closely with the Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority to approve the trial of the compostable bags for use in security.
The trial is the result of ideas put forward by airport security colleagues Daniel Bryan, Carol Morgan and Edita Andrews, who suggested more sustainable options could be considered for security bags, and to encourage passengers to only take as many bags as they need for their journey.
London Stansted staff will be distributing 50,000 of the compostable bags to passengers during one of the busiest weeks of the year for the airport as the Christmas getaway starts to take off. The airport will also be using the trial to seek passengers’ feedback on the bags and also their wider attitudes to travelling sustainably through the airport. Passengers who prefer to use the existing bags will be reminded to re-use them as many times as possible when travelling in the future or for other creative purposes outside of travelling such as sandwich bags, carrying make-up or household storage.
Staff will also be encouraging passengers to bring refillable bottles and refill them at its water fountains and asking for their views on other related issues such as carbon offsetting and using public transport to access the airport.
The trial is the latest in a programme of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ initiatives at London Stansted that have been introduced to cut down on waste and support the airport’s successful zero to landfill policy. This includes donating over 15 tonnes of items surrendered by passengers at security to local food banks, giving out 1,500 free reusable bottles, 3,500 hot drinks cups, 3,800 silver birch trees, 150 Christmas trees and recently increasing the number of water refill stations throughout the terminal. The airport also recently announced a partnership with Cambridgeshire-based bio bean to convert the 150 tonnes of coffee grounds produced each year to solid biofuels.
“As we reach the end of another busy year, tens of thousands of passengers have been passing through the terminal each day – each with a plastic bag for their liquids, many of which will simply end up in the bin. Our first message to passengers is to think carefully about how often they use the non-recyclable plastic bags. They can obviously be used again for a return flight, but there are plenty of other uses for them if you’re not a frequent flyer, so we’re urging people to avoid throwing them away after they fly. However, we’re always on the lookout for new ways to cut down on waste, and trialling new compostable bags is just another example of how we are is leading the way in tackling some of the local environmental impacts which come with running this small town that we oversee here at London Stansted." Martin Churley, Environment Manager at London Stansted Airport
“Working in the frontline security operation, we see thousands of passengers passing through every day, each with their liquids in a non-recyclable plastic bag, so it made sense to suggest finding an alternative bag that was more environmentally friendly. While passengers can of course reuse the current bags multiple times, I think it’s important we do all we can to put sustainability at the heart our operation, so I’m delighted we are the first major airport in the UK to trial these new compostable bags." Security Manager, Daniel Bryan
The bags are produced by PMC Polythene, who are based in Buntingford, Hertfordshire and specialise in the manufacture of recyclable polythene products from recycled UK sourced waste.
“Over the past few years PMC has introduced a full range of compostable products for clients who are actively addressing the environmental issues we face today. We have already developed a close relationship with Stansted Airport supplying general waste, mixed recycling and natural compostable sacks for use throughout the airport, so we are delighted to extend this partnership through the trial of our new compostable security bags." Jonny Blunt, Sales – Business Development at PMC Polythene