Qantas Accused of Reusing Plastic Cutlery on Flights Up To 30 Times

Posted May 17th 2010 12:11 PMUpdated May 17th 2010 12:19 PM



Karithina, flickr

When does being "green" begin to look really stingy? For Qantas airline, it's when you start reusing plastic knifes and forks multiple times on international flights. Qantas, Australia's largest airline, has come under fire for allegedly reusing plastic cutlery up to 30 times before discarding the disposable utensils.

The allegation (that is, if you consider overzealous recycling a crime) comes from, which cites a supplier who was reportedly informed by Qantas staff that the plastic cutlery was washed and redistributed as many as 30 times before being thrown away.

"I asked them, 'If you have half a leftover sandwich, do you put it with another half?'" the supplier told the online Australian newspaper. "They said no."

Qantas admits that plastic knives, forks, and spoons are collected after meals and sent to a washing facility where the utensils are professionally cleaned before being redistributed on another flight. Plastic cutlery on Qantas international flights is reused at least three times depending on the deterioration of the utensils, says the airline. The plastic forks and knifes on many domestic flights are not recycled because of the sheer volume of customers, says the airline. As many as 50,000 passengers fly on Qantas domestic flights every weekday, while only 19,000 passengers fly to and from Australia daily on Qantas international flights.

In defense of the recycling practice, Qantas asserted that their plastic cutlery is "more robust" than regular disposable utensils, which allows for multiple re-use.
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Heather Stock

Yes, plastic utensils should be washed and reused. Think abou the full picture folks! The 'embodies energy' it takes in the life of one single plastic fork. It takes oil being sucked out of the ground to make the plastic, the plastic fork is likely made in China and then shipped to the U.S. or whatever hyperconsumption country you live in, then that folk is used to shovel food into someone's mouth, and then tossed into the garbage, which will end up in the landfill site decomposing for hundreds if not thousands of years or floating around in the ocean which already has 5 major garage dumps in it. The oceans of dying folks! Wake up and don't be so ignorant! Stop mass consuming and be wasteful!

August 09 2010 at 8:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


May 19 2010 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I reuse plastic, only for my self. I would never allow my guest to do the same.

May 19 2010 at 7:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ritchie perkins

Right on Qantas I reuse mine until the break or I lose them.I do have to wonder if Bettina has a point is it worth it overall ..

May 18 2010 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe this is news worthy, but I will put in my two cents anyway-

1. If you've flown a lot with Qantas, you'd know that the plastic knives and forks that have caused this controversy are actually very sturdy and clearly made to be reused, like any plastic utensil that you have in your kitchen.

2. Weight is a big issue on flights. Even the colour of aircraft paint is considered, and as it turns out white and silver is lighter to the tune of 100's of kilos (x2.2lbs) - you might have noticed a lot of planes are white? Hence, everything is considered to reduce weight including cutlery etc.

3. The chance of transmitting pathogens on plastic must be negligible if properly washed. HIV and hepatitis C can only be transmitted via blood, not plastic someone suggested.

4. This is a common-sense approach and Qantas should be commended on leading the world on recycling and environmental protection - in an industry that is already so damaging to the environment.

5. Rather than being ridiculed idiots, such recycling should be embraced +/- supported by legislation if needed

that is all :)

May 18 2010 at 8:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think we all know that plastic forks, knives, and spoons are not stable enough to last through 30 washings let alone one bomb attack. .

May 17 2010 at 8:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Okay....been reading all of the comments and I just HAD to comment. If you are concerned about contracting something while being on an suggestion is not to fly. Having "recycled" plasticware on a flight should be the LEAST of one's worries about catching something! Let me give you some tips on how to avoid germs on airplanes. First.....DON'T sit on a seat or touch an armrest. You have NO idea what the person who sat in that seat before you might have been doing while sitting there or did before sitting there. Seats and armrests are infested with bacteria. DO NOT use the lav! Gross! Who knows if the 1,000 people who used it ahead of you used good hygiene (i.e, handwashing?) Yes, the lav is cleaned...but having been a former flight attendant...I have watched the "cleaning" of lavs between flights. I, personally wait if possible until I can use a restroom in the terminal (which is usually cleaned much more frequently than an airplane lav). DON'T take your shoes off while on an airplane...and REALLY don't want to send your child to the restroom in his sock or bare feet. YES......I have seen this....even adults do this! Socks make a great sponge for what was left on the lav floor by previous passengers....and bare feet? Well, you really don't want to walk out with wet feet. Need I say more? And for those curious about the "mile high club"? Eeewwww...!!!!! Oh, one last comment....those flight attendants who serve beverages (and sometimes food) as well as pick up your trash? Mmmm...I have NEVER seen a galley with a sink to wash one's hands in it. Those flight attendants stand in line to use the lav along with the passengers and only if time permits. And that is not each time between picking up that person's trash sitting in front of you and serving your beveragel to you. Was that a dirty diaper that you just tried to hand the flight attendant to throw away AFTER YOU CHANGED YOUR BABY ON THE SEAT? She said she wouldn't take it? Maybe because she is running for that drink the person in front of you just asked for. No time or facility for handwashing. Bottom line....don't worry about plasticware...carry your own hand sanitizer and use it frequently....keep your shoes on....use good hygiene if you MUST use the lav...and if the flight attendant wants to cut in front of you to wash her hands while you are waiting in line to use the lav.....LET HER!

May 17 2010 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to FormerStew's comment

AMEN TO ALL YOUR COMMENTS. I travel a lot and sometimes I hesitate to use the lavatory. You do not know what kind of "liquid" is on the floor : water or??? People do not clean up after themselves and I just gag looking at the sink. People are nasty in general so you do need to take precautions. As far as the seats, armrests and blankets are concerned : use your best judment. I never put the blanket next to my face , only on my lap. Pillows? I just hope there is a new cover everytime I use it.
Solution: wash your hands throughout the whole flight, every time you touch something. That's what I do. Got terribly ill after a transatlantic flight two years ago. Still don't know what caused it. Now I am very careful.

May 19 2010 at 3:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

wash plastic utensils and reuse. so what's wrong?
wash silverware utensils and reuse. so whats wrong?
whats wrong is NOT washing and reusing them, plastic or silverware.

May 17 2010 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's one thing if you use this practice within your own home, but when you are using it for many different people it becomes a problem. Sure, restaurants reuse cutlery, but they are using METAL cutlery, not plastic. Plastic is poreous, and I believe like some of the people here, that it can retain germs, and possibly disease. I worked in a daycare center where running the plastic spoons through the dishwasher was standard practice. I firmly believe this is why the kids were always sick. We never had just once case of any virus, whether it be strep throat or any other virus. It's disgusting. And if I were one of the parents paying $200+ a week, I want my child to have a fresh plastic spoon everytime they eat...not what little Susie used the day before

May 17 2010 at 7:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Next they will recycle toilet paper.

May 17 2010 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply