For more than five years, Lithuanian Airports have been guided by the idea that it is not only important to ensure a good travelling experience, but also to keep in mind the well-being of society as a whole. In order to contribute to the everyday life of everyone in the country, Vilnius Airport runs a social initiative where hygiene products, drinks and other left-behind items are not thrown away but distributed to more than 600 organisations, including retirement homes, children's day care centres, foster families, people with disabilities and other organisations.
“As the number of passengers increases, so do the quantities of food or beverages and hygiene products that are left at aviation security. This is because these items do not comply with the aviation security requirements for hand luggage - for example, hygiene products in bottles larger than 100 ml or in a total volume of more than 1 l. Therefore, we are working with the Lithuanian Food Bank (Lt Maisto bankas) organization to transfer these items to various organisations. This not only helps to reduce emissions, but also prevents the waste of food, hygiene and other products.” - said Beatričė Paškevičiūtė, Sustainability and Communication Project Manager at Lithuanian Airports.
According to her, in many cases, passengers are not even aware that they are doing a good and meaningful deed, and that the items they leave behind are reaching others in the country.
“We have already collected more than 6.3 tonnes of products in the first 10 months of the year. In comparison, we collected and handed over a record 5.4 tonnes of food and hygiene products in 2019 and around three tonnes in 2021. Both this year and in previous years, hygiene products accounted for the largest amount collected. The products are distributed to retirement homes, rehabilitation centres and crisis centres. The next most popular items are various drinks and canned fish. There have been cases of passengers trying to smuggle a litre of oil in hand luggage. These products were also handed over to our partners, Lithuanian Food Bank, to be given to those who cannot afford to buy a full meal.” - shared B. Paškevičiūtė.
B. Paškevičiūtė also added that Lithuanian Food Bank also receives the recovered deposit for beverage packaging, which is used to organise meals for those in need.
Simonas Gurevičius, Director of Lithuanian Food Bank, agreed, saying that sometimes it is hard to believe that it is possible to contribute to the reduction of food waste even if you are in the airport area.
“Food is wasted all along the chain - from farmers' fields to people's homes. That's why we are delighted with our long-standing partnership with Lithuanian Airports. More than five years ago, we set up Lithuanian Food Bank donation points here, where passengers can leave unauthorised products and hygiene products in their hand luggage without having to throw them in the trash, and contribute to a noble mission.” - commented S.Gurevičius, Director of Lithuanian Food Bank.
He also said that cooperation with Lithuanian Airports also helps to reduce emissions.
“Passengers who leave prohibited items at Lithuanian Food Bank donation points are not only contributing to reducing food waste, but also helping to fight climate change. Discarded, rotting food generates around 10% of global emissions. That's 3-4 times more than the world's entire aviation sector.” - said Lithuanian Food Bank Director.
According to him, Lithuanian Food Bank currently supports more than 600 organisations. Around 170,000 people in need receive support every month.