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KLM Sustainability Programme Uses Dirt-Eating Microbes

KLM Sustainability Programme Uses Dirt-Eating Microbes

KLM recently hosted journalists from Irish Travel Trade News and other selected European magazines to presentations and demonstrations of the Air France-KLM Corporate Social Responsibility Programme. Air France-KLM has been at the top end of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in the Airline category for 13 consecutive years, writes William Morgan.

KLM’s CSR Department consists of Director Inka Pieter and four others. They monitor all aspects of KLM’s operations and continually make suggestions to improve efficiency and sustainability.

CRS in the KLM hanger.

CSR in the KLM hanger

In the air, KLM has reduced CO2 emissions by 16%. This has been achieved by partly replacing its fleet with more efficient aircraft such as the Embraer 175+ and 190 and the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner; by partly powering intercontinental flights with Biofuel from sustainable resources; by having the CO2ZERO service that enables passengers to travel carbon neutral by contributing a variable amount per flight, which then goes to planting trees in Panama; by reducing the weight carried by aircraft, such as by replacing paper newspapers with the KLM Media App to download newspapers; and also by reducing weight of cargo wood pallets and rope restraints.

KLM Catering policy uses food from sustainable sources as much as feasible. The policy applies to all flights departing from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and where possible to catering from its destinations. Certified sustainable fish, coffee, chocolate and animal welfare certified eggs are specifically targeted. A tour of the Catering Service shows how KLM processes packing for flights and then sorting afterwards into waste, recyclables and reusables.

CRS media briefing from KLM

CSR media briefing from KLM

In the hangers, aircraft maintenance also looks towards sustainable and environmentally friendly operations. Aircraft are cleaned using a semi-dry technique saving eight million litres of water annually. Aircraft engines are washed every three to six months to improve efficiency by 0.2 to 0.5%. KLM has even developed a technique for washing hanger floors with water containing dirt-eating microbes instead of detergent. These microbes also continue cleaning the drains. Unfortunately, this solution is not available domestically. Lighting in the hangers is now automatically controlled by sensors, as is heating where possible, and this has resulted in a €1.2 million saving from a bill of €7 million. These and other ground operations have resulted in a 17% decrease in CO2 emissions.

KLM takes waste recycling to new heights with 14 different processes that recycle catering and aircraft waste. Even used aircraft parts are sent to the USA to be broken down into their basic constituents, which are then used in the manufacture of genuine new aircraft parts.

With these presentations, it was easy to see how Air France-KLM is working at setting the standard in CSR and to remain the front-runner in the air transport industry.

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Michael Flood is an experienced travel expert with over 35 years' experience of the airline industry and the travel and tourism world.

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