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Focusing decarbonization efforts only on clean power for the aviation and aerospace sectors does not allow one to look at the whole picture of sustainability. The role of materials must not be overlooked to bring the industry onto a fully sustainable and climate-neutral path. The current predominant linear and extractive economic model still results in the waste of high-quality aerospace materials.
In 2017, airlines generated 5.7 million tons of cabin waste, and as passenger numbers increase, the volume of waste could double in the next 10 years, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
End of service (aircraft recycling).
An aircraft remains in service for about 20 to 25 years. During that time, it will fly an average of 40,274,144 kilometers-more than 1,000 times around the world-and some long-range aircraft will fly more than 100 million kilometers!
Once it reaches the end of its useful life, 85-90% of the aircraft (by weight) can be recycled.
New materials, such as carbon fiber, present a new challenge to aircraft designers, who must find ways to process materials when they are no longer used. Processes are being developed to recycle these materials once the aircraft reaches the end of its useful life.
Tarmac Aerosave takes advantage of an innovative system for smart dismantling and recycling of end-of-life aircraft. They aim to dispose of the 6,000 aircraft that will be retired in the next 15 years.
Tarmac was established in 2009 after PAMELA successfully demonstrated that the environmental impact of aircraft dismantling can be significantly reduced.
The Process for Advanced Management of End of Life of Aircraft (PAMELA) project aimed to demonstrate that aircraft components could be dismantled and recycled safely for reuse in aviation or other industries. The success of the project, co-funded by the EU's LIFE-Environment program, led to the creation of a commercial aircraft recycling business that offers high-quality materials for reuse in aircraft production.
Although aircraft are made from materials that can be recycled or reused in various ways, prior to PAMELA there were no standardized procedures. PAMELA has sought to fill this gap by first ensuring compliance with waste regulations and then, on a voluntary basis, striving to achieve a target recycling rate of 85 percent, comparable to that of the EU End-of-Life Vehicles Directive (2000/53/EC), which does not currently apply to aircraft.
Located near Tarbes airport in southwest France, the Tarmac facility has the capacity to dismantle up to 30 large aircraft per year.
Since 2007, the project has achieved the following results: 517 aircraft stored
117 aircraft recycled
92 percent reuse of remaining parts
100 engines recycled

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