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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is using recycled plastic bottles to make tools for repairing and maintaining its aircraft in a bid to reduce waste.
Empty bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are collected at the end of every flight and turned into filament, a material used in 3D printers. This material is then used to print pieces of equipment that the airline said can save its engineering and maintenance division time and money.
KLM said it used to buy filament from external suppliers but will now send its empty plastic bottles to a recycling company in exchange for plastic pellets, the main material in filament.
The airline uses 3D-printed components to speed up repair and maintenance processes.
KLM said it aims to reduce the volume of its waste by 50 per cent in 2030 compared to 2011 levels. It is taking steps to reduce waste overall and increase the amount of materials that can be recycled. In 2018, the carrier reduced waste by 9 per cent, while 28 per cent of what remained was recycled.
Ton Dortmans, executive vice president of engineering and maintenance at KLM, said: “We are continuously investing in sustainable and innovative products and processes, for our customers, for society and for our own employees. It’s terrific to see how we are able to make useful products from waste materials.”