We all know how these days you are not allowed to bring any significant amount of liquid on the airplane. Every liquid you do bring with you is taken away swiftly. Bruce Schneier has an excellent blog entry on the usefulness of this rule.
In Belgium we have this television series “Airport Security” about the day to day aspects of security on our national airport (“Brussels Airport”). It actually is a spin off from similar US and UK shows. In one of the episodes they showed how they confiscated liquids. After a couple of days all the bottles amounted to a fairly large pile. All nicely tucked away in plastic storage boxes. Their content is however not safely disposed of (after all, they can contain potential explosives), they give it all away to a charity organization who then distributes it to people in need.
Although I support the fact they want to help charity organizations, it seems a bit illogical to me. One minute they threat these bottles as potentially dangerous, confiscating them without exception, the next minute their risk level seems to drop to zero and they are handed out to charity.
As Bruce states in the above mentioned article:
If something is dangerous, treat it as dangerous and treat anyone who tries to bring it on as potentially dangerous. If it’s not dangerous, then stop trying to keep it off airplanes.
So either we stop confiscating those liquids or we start handling them as really having a risk level: threat anyone who tries to bring it on as potentially dangerous and safely dispose of the liquids. Our current procedures are just stupid, annoying, incomplete and don’t add value to protecting those who travel by air.