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Coffee Disposal Clarification

Date: February 18, 2022

Previously the Procedures (P&P) manual was updated to reflect changes to the procedures to be used as it pertains to the disposal of liquids. It appears that the recent February revision has brought this issue more prominently to the forefront as a topic of discussion. 

Chapter 2 of our Current P&P guidelines addresses the disposal of liquids under the following circumstances based on the location of the aircraft at the time fluids are being discarded:

When the aircraft is at the gate: (page 229)

These guidelines establish that we should not use lavatories or galley sinks because of the potential to cause a safety hazard for ground workers. If there is a need to dispose of coffee at the gate, coffee should be discarded into a trash container after allowing it to cool for thirty (30) minutes.

In those circumstance where there is insufficient time to allow for cooling, coffee should be discarded using double-bagged plastic trash bags and then placed into a trash container.

When the aircraft is in motion: (Page 230)

When the aircraft is in motion, including taxi, use of plastic bags or garbage cans is not promoted unless a drain becomes clogged or in those circumstances were there is a large amount of coffee grounds.  If, while performing your galley or safety checks it becomes necessary to dispose of the coffee, because the aircraft is away from the gate and in motion, you may use drains.

However, we want to be clear, AFA has advocated that the use of lavatory facilities for the disposal of these liquids is to be avoided as a matter of sanitation.   These galley items should never be in the aircraft lavatories as a matter of safe food handling guidelines as it pertains to items used to serve food and beverages to passengers.

Should you encounter any safety related concerns or issues resulting from pouring hot coffee into trash bags or trash cans containing more liquid than intended, we need you to document these issues via an IOR to ensure our Union can follow up with the company and advocate for any additional changes to procedures.

In most cases, the approach many of us have taken for years, meet United’s safety objectives: that is, avoiding harm to those on the ground and preventing clogged drains.  Safety is always our top priority.

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