Anyone who’s been on a plane is well-aware that we could do with a little less plastic. Between the packaging for meals, headphones, blankets, drinks, you name it—one can only imagine how much waste accumulates over the course of the day, weeks, months and years.
On a mission to make aviation more sustainable, Australian airline carrier, Qantas, is the first-ever commercial flight to produce no landfill waste, marking the start of Qantas’ plan to cut 100 million single-use plastics by end-2020 and eliminate 75 per cent of the airline’s waste by end-2021, according to a press statement.
Taking to the skies on the morning of May 8th, 2019, the domestic flight flew from Sydney to Adelaide, where passengers were served their breakfast in compostable packaging.
About 1000 single-use plastic items were substituted with sustainable alternatives or removed altogether from the flight, including individually-packaged servings of milk and Vegemite, the statement says.
Instead, products used during the flight include meal containers made from sugar cane and cutlery made from crop starch, all of which is fully compostable.
At the end of the meal service, Qantas cabin crew (aka the “Green Team”) collected the items left over for reuse, recycling or composting in multiple waste streams. Where possible, passengers also used digital boarding passes and electronic bag tags.
Speaking at the flight’s departure, Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David said the trial flight was an important milestone for the national carrier’s plan to slash waste.
“In the process of carrying over 50 million people every year, Qantas and Jetstar currently produce an amount of waste equivalent to 80 fully-laden Boeing 747 jumbo jets,” Mr David said in the press statement.
“We want to give customers the same level of service they currently enjoy, but without the amount of waste that comes with it.”
In its effort to remove 100 million single-use plastic items every year by the end of 2020, Qantas and Jetstar will replace 45 million plastic cups, 30 million cutlery sets, 21 million coffee cups and 4 million headrest covers with sustainable alternatives.