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At WFS, Action Speaks Louder Than Words As It Progresses Its Global Sustainability Roadmap

Article submitted by Worldwide Flight Services – TIACA Trustee Member

In a climate where action speaks louder than words, Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) the world’s largest air cargo handler, is showing its commitment to protecting the environment through sustainable operating practices.

October saw the first results from WFS’ latest initiative to reduce its impact on the environment as the company shared the initial environmental benefits of its decision to convert to using BioNatur Plastic™ biodegradable stretch wrap for cargo shipments at its operations across North America.

While regular plastic can take 1,000 years to biodegrade in a landfill, BioNatur Plastic™ biodegradable plastics will biodegrade under landfill conditions in only 5 to 10 years, and most recent testing shows LDPE stretch wrap 22.8% biodegraded in 387 days. By using the BioNatur Plastic™ solution as part of its sustainability programme, WFS successfully reduced the amount of plastic languishing in a landfill by the equivalent of 68 million plastic water bottles in just 12 months.

This commitment to improving the environment has enabled WFS to cut the amount of standard non-biodegradable plastic going to landfill by 616,885kgs. Now. based on the success of the first phase of this program in North America, WFS will implement a similar product at its stations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia in 2022.

Across its global business, spanning 170 major airports in 20 countries, WFS is ensuring its more than 22,000 employees are well aware of the company’s commitment to implementing more sustainable practices across its cargo and ground handling operations. Other tangible examples of this include:

• In Spain, WFS is driving the development of its roadmap for sustainability and innovation in line with the 2030 Climate Action Plan of AENA, the public airport authority in Spain. This has already included trials in H2/2021 of 100% electric Ground Support Equipment to support its aim to significantly reduce carbon emissions without compromising WFS’ high standards of customer service;
• Electric forklifts powered by decarbonated energy are also being introduced into the company’s warehouses in Paris CDG;
• LED lighting has already been installed in WFS cargo facilities in 9 countries, with more stations to follow in 2022. At London Heathrow, the latest station to switch to LED, WFS has saved the equivalent of 309 tonnes of CO² in just 12 months;
• Environmental benefits are also expected from WFS’ new automated ‘CargoKiosk’ technology, which simplifies and digitalises the processing of trucks and drivers making cargo deliveries and collections more efficient, and reducing the amount of time vehicles need to spend at WFS sites.

WFS’ commitment to decrease energy consumption also involves working proactively with airports and property partners to ensure new facilities in the WFS global network come equipped with sustainability features and benefits.

It is also partnering with other associations to offset residual CO² emissions, adopting solar panels projects, and switching to low CO² emissions electricity providers. Pilot tests have also started using hydrogen powered vehicles.

WFS also expects its suppliers to follow its lead as part of its Sustainable Procurement focus. This involves monitoring the environmental performance of vendors and products, as well as improving waste management and seeking sustainable and recycled materials and products.

Mike Simpson, EVP Americas at WFS, commented: “Our airline customers, and the aviation industry- at-large is making significant steps forwards in terms of sustainability, and WFS shares their commitment to protecting our planet.

“In 2020, we reinforced our Environmental, Social & Governmental (ESG) focus to introduce more sustainable practices and achieve annual targets for reducing our carbon footprint and reducing waste. Our sustainability roadmap gives us a pathway for this and, of course, as a global leader in the cargo and ground handling sectors, we are in regular contact with providers of other sustainable solutions which can help us produce the measurable improvements our plan calls for. We are encouraged by the results we are seeing from our latest initiatives, but we also recognize the need to always be looking to do more. This focus is now engrained in our business ethos.”