Mr. Saksayam Chidchob, Transport Minister, and Mr. Varawut Silpa-archa, Natural Resources and Environment Minister, presided over the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony on food waste management between Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) and THAI Smile Airways with Food Innopolis, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), at THAI Head Office, Vibhavadi Rangsit Road. Mr. Sumeth Damrongchaitham, THAI President, Mrs. Charita Leelayudth, THAI Smile Chief Executive Officer, and Mr. Narong Sirilertworakul, Director, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), signed the MoU with Air Chief Marshal Chaiyapruk Didyasarin, THAI Chairman, as witness.
Mr. Saksayam Chidchob, Transport Minister, said that nations worldwide are currently implementing laws to tax use of plastic and to prohibit single use plastics. Regarding this issue as a national agenda, Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha, has assigned involved organizations to develop measures to reduce single use plastics. Furthermore, public and private sectors have collaborated to encourage reduced public use of single use plastics which would solve pollution and health issues for people in the long run. Therefore, the 20-Year Thai Transport Infrastructure Development Action Plan was based on the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). Campaigns were launched in all sectors under the Ministry to raise awareness and encourage action in using multiple use plastics. THAI and THAI Smile are committed to operate with sustainable development objectives to minimize environmental impact. Joining this food waste management project is the starting point of their effort to decrease resource loss.
Mr. Varawut Silpa-archa, Natural Resources and Environment Minister, said the signing of this MoU with THAI and THAI Smile symbolizes their commitment to the food waste issue and their eagerness to join in solving pollution and environmental issues caused by food waste to which Thailand has significantly contributed. Recent studies reveal that 33-50 percent of solid waste is food waste. Inadequate food waste management will affect greenhouse gas quantity and food security. Therefore, food waste is both a national issue and global issue. The United Nation declared that the SDGs for 2014-2030 consist of SDG 12.3, where companies and nations worldwide are required to reduce food waste by 50% within 2030. Food manufacturers worldwide are required to reduce food waste in their supply chain and post-harvest. THAI is well known for its high quality and delicious meals; therefore, sustainability and environmental concern should not be overlooked. Food waste reduction should be based on systematic workflow and participation from all sectors involved.
Mr. Sumeth Damrongchaitham, THAI President, said that THAI as the national flag carrier is deeply concerned with its roles and responsibilities toward society. In 2020, THAI will celebrate its 60th anniversary, which will be marked by joining the food waste management project that will become THAI’s policy. This project will reduce THAI Catering’s food waste and cabin waste as well as environmental impact. In addition, it will enhance effective resource management. THAI has been operating with sustainable development as its top priority, with the goal to become a sustainable airline by 2023.
THAI staff, passengers, and stakeholders will be educated on this topic. Over the past years, THAI implemented several measures concerning the environment: carbon offset, fuel efficiency policy, and resource management in THAI Catering meal production. By joining this food waste management project and initiating it in the aviation industry, THAI will reduce 400 kilograms of food waste per day or approximately 20 million baht per year. In the first year of “Save Food Save the World” project, THAI will focus on reassessing the food manufacturing process and supply chain, beginning from ingredient procurement, THAI Catering food production, menu planning, packing and loading, and cabin waste management. New approaches will be introduced to in-flight service, whereby all meals will be consumed onboard the flight and the pre-selected menu will be made available for passenger selection prior to flight. It is anticipated that in-flight meal loading will decrease by 20%. These measures will be introduced on THAI’s flights to Europe in 2020 and on all flights in 2021.
In addition, innovations will be developed with emphasis placed on procedures and technology, which will be introduced in the new work process, by studying ingredients used by the airline in an effort to identify the appropriate technology that will reduce food waste in meal production and technology that can maintain fruit freshness. THAI expects to reduce food waste by approximately 3% year-on-year. Greenhouse gas emission will decrease by 2,078 carbon tonnes per year or an equivalent of planting 230,000 trees per year. THAI’s food waste reduction will also drive national food waste reduction, which is a part of the national agenda on sustainable manufacturing and consumption as well as national achievement of the UN’s SDGs.
Mrs. Charita Leelayudth, THAI Smile Chief Executive Officer, said THAI Smile is aware of food waste reduction and implemented a planet conservation policy in 2018 under the eco-efficiency concept, in line with the “Save Food Save the World” project. According to statistics gathered last year, 1.4% of THAI Smile passengers refused their in-flight meals. In 2020, THAI Smile aims to increase the intensity of its food waste management efficiency. Passengers may refuse in-flight meals, which THAI Smile expects to reduce by 16.45 tonnes per year: 5.7 tonnes per year from domestic flights and 10.75 tonnes from international flights, the equivalent of 100,000 meals per year.
“THAI Smile is part of the meal production supply chain. Although we are not directly involved in meal production, THAI Smile can play an active role in reducing food waste from meals served on board. Passengers can participate in the food donation campaign and help to boost food waste awareness. As the majority of our passengers are environmentally conscious, it is our belief that we will receive positive passenger feedback on the food waste prevention project, as we received positive responses after 100 per cent biodegradable packaging was implemented last year along with onboard garbage separation,” said Mrs. Leelayudth.
Mr. Narong Sirilertworakul, Director of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), said that the NSTDA is determined to be a driving force for national development under the Thailand 4.0 Initiative and the 20-Year National Strategy (including the UN’s SDGs), by pushing the Thai national economy towards innovative transformation.
The NSTDA is committed to implementing a modern approach for sustainable manufacturing and consumption, with aims to reduce national food wastes per capita in wholesale markets by up to 50% and thus achieving the twelfth SDG. The NSTDA also hopes to reduce food wastes in manufacturing processes and the supply chain, including harvested goods by 2030.
The NSTDA recognizes this initiative as a positive step to provide both THAI and THAI Smile social, economic and environmental consultancy. Both airlines will receive technological assistance and transfer scientific knowledge to enhance their operational efficiency and business development. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will also be introduced to evaluate the effectiveness of the project, while cooperation with the public and private sector is urged to extend technological research and innovation that can improve THAI’s resource management efficiency in its food manufacturing process.