IATA awards LATAM Cargo for plastic reduction effort in cargo operations

In Chile, LATAM will replace stretch film with 3M tape for the international operation and started using reusable blankets for their domestic narrow body operation, in Santiago.

Andrés Bianchi, CEO, LATAM Cargo, Brendan Sullivan, Global Head of Cargo, IATA, Daniela Vial, Director of Product Development.

Andrés Bianchi, CEO, LATAM Cargo, Brendan Sullivan, Global Head of Cargo, IATA, Daniela Vial, Director of Product Development.

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) awarded LATAM Cargo the winner of the Air Cargo Innovation Award in the corporate category for its plastic reduction initiatives in Chile and Brazil. These projects were developed by the subsidiary's workers as part of the company's aim to being a zero-waste-to-landfill organisation by 2027.

The fourth edition of the awards was presented at the closing of the IATA's 2023 World Cargo Symposium. The awards are intended to promote new concepts and ideas that contribute to the industry's digitalization, sustainability, safety, and security. LATAM Cargo distinguished itself from the other 25 corporate contestants by demonstrating progress in sustainability via the execution of three circular economy innovative initiatives for its operational operations in Chile and Brazil's local and international markets.

"This award is a very important recognition not only for the group, but especially for our employees who were behind these innovations. Two years ago, we made a commitment to migrate from a linear model to a circular one, where waste is a resource. Today these projects are a reflection of this commitment, and of the fact that great changes can come from the bottom up, without the need for major investment or technology. These advances are just the beginning. We will continue to work on more initiatives that allow us to contribute to the environment, and we hope that more industry players will join in, because we cannot achieve change alone," commented Diego García, director of Ground Operations and Handling, LATAM Cargo.

These initiatives are, in the case of Chile, the implementation of a recyclable 3M tape that replaces the plastic film used to consolidate dry cargo in the country's import hold, which will enable an 80% substitution of plastic in this process, resulting in a reduction of 24 tonnes per year. In addition, with this, LATAM becomes the first airline in the world to work with 3M, and to implement this innovative material for cargo operations.

The second project implemented in the country was in their domestic narrow body operation and aimed to replace the plastic film used only to consolidate and transport cargo safely from the hold to the aircraft's feet, with a reusable blanket that has a useful life of nearly four years. This change will make it possible to reduce the use of this plastic by 100% for this process, thus reducing the use of 45 tonnes of this material per year.

On the other hand, the last initiative exhibited is the one applied in Brazil, which following the objective of replacing plastic film, the cargo subsidiary resorted to the use of waterproof and reusable pallet covers for the storage of cargo in the Guarulhos warehouse, as well as for the ground transportation of cargo from one warehouse to another. With this, the company expects to reduce 13 tonnes of plastic per year.

“Innovation holds the key to development, sustainability, and success in the air cargo industry, that’s why we launched the IATA Air Cargo Innovation Awards. I am honored to present the Corporate Award to LATAM Cargo for their innovation efforts in sustainability and for fostering an environment of advancement and inclusion across all levels of the airline,” said Brendan Sullivan, Global Head of Cargo, IATA.

It was the employees of the cargo subsidiary who researched and proposed these innovative solutions that were intended to reduce, eliminate or replace the use of plastics in the cargo operation, seeking new materials that were more sustainable and did not involve operational risks, both for the cargo and for the operators. These results were possible thanks to the collaborative work with its suppliers, who supported this initiative to implement the due processes and thus achieve a replacement material that was reusable and complied with all the environmental and technical requirements necessary to achieve a circular economy.

It should be recalled that in May 2021, the LATAM Group launched its renewed sustainability strategy in which it established challenging goals: to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, eliminate single-use plastics throughout its operations by 2023, and become a zero waste to landfill group by 2027, with the aim of contributing to the protection of South American ecosystems for the next 30 years.

To date, the cargo airline group has researched and tested more than 18 initiatives focused on plastic reduction and substitution in its operations, of which 7 are being tested in some markets in the region. It is expected that in the future the company will continue to expand these projects to all applicable areas within its network.

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