Wrapping suitcases in plastic is a custom on air travel. Nothing confirms that with this practice the belongings are not broken or stolen, what is known is the serious contamination they generate.
An example of what happens when wrapping suitcases with plastic can be seen at the Madrid airfield where two luggage laminating companies, BullWrap and SecureBag, operate legally. The stands of both companies, which provide service 24 hours a day, every day of the year, are interspersed in the long corridor of Terminal 1, Terminal 4, and Terminal 2.
One of SecureBag's employees says that in low season, he aims to pack around 40 bags per shift, although sometimes it doesn't reach this figure and prepares 25-30. The service costs between seven and ten euros.
“Things change in summer, also when Christmas approaches. In high season we can do about 70 or 80“, Explains this young worker under anonymity to avoid retaliation. It adds that the laminating machines closest to the passenger checkpoint can load up to 120-130 packages in a single eight-hour shift.
The operation of the wrapping machine is very simple. This one goes around the suitcase three times on one side and six on the other, according to another worker from the same company. In total, for a large package about 12 meters of plastic from a one meter wide roll are used.
This quantity of plastic, multiplied by the nearly 40 packages that are laminated in a normal shift, by the three that there are in a day, give a total of 1,440 square meters of plastic per stand per day. Approximately one and a half olympic pool. If this amount of wrapping is multiplied by the 16 laminating kiosks at the airport, the figure shoots up to 22,400 square meters of plastic wasted per day. About 21 Olympic swimming pools.
Companies argue that the packaging material is a 100% recyclable plastic resin, but the question is, how much plastic is actually recycled?
The responsibility lies with the consumer, but who really are the passengers that after long hours of travel can take care of recycling?
From Greenpeace, they explain that the NGO does not have data on the amount of waste generated by this service, but points out that the most environmentally responsible option will always be the one that is reusable, such as padlocks. What there is evidence of is that some airlines encourage this service on their web pages.
A somewhat incoherent fact is that AENA, the public company that manages Spain's airports, promotes plastic packaging on its website as a “safe” service but at the same time celebrates its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG ) of the United Nations: protection of the environment, efficient use of resources and fight against climate change (SDG 7, 11 and 13). "We work to promote sustainable coexistence models in the environments where we operate". A commitment that collides with so much plastic wasted every day in the country's airports.
Experienced travelers like Vanessa Santiago and Roger Carles, who write on their blog Street travelers, ccomment that the packaging service is pointless. The couple, after many years traveling, believe that it is by no means the best option to protect luggage, in addition to having a price that they consider abusive. "We have not used plastic again for about 15 years. The first and last time was on a trip to Turkey. After paying, the result was exactly the same as if we had put a strap or a lock, we decided not to use it againThey explain. In addition to this, they underline the problem that currently generates the excessive consumption of single-use plastics, "We believe this is one of the things that all travelers should rule out", They conclude