(TMU) — Flying to your destination might be convenient, but it can take a toll on the environment. Fortunately, at least one airline is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint and is doing so by eliminating nearly 55 million single-use plastic items from its flights.
Inspired by “Plastic Free July,” Air New Zealand has pledged to more than double its reduction of single-use plastic items from 24 million items to nearly 55 million this year. Reportedly, the plastic-free initiative began in late 2018. The first items to be phased out for “lower impact alternatives” included water cups, coffee cups and lids, and cheese plates and lids.
During the month of July, the airline will remove individual plastic water bottles. The move is expected to prevent more than 460,000 bottles from being dumped into landfills and reduce carbon emissions by over 300,000 kg—or more than 600,000 lbs. Later this year, eco-friendly alternatives that include recyclable water cups and compostable coffee cups will be added.
Said Air NZ’s acting head of sustainability, Anna Palairet:
“The lack of composting infrastructure available in New Zealand is a challenge so we have been focused on reducing the amount of single-use plastic products we purchase in the first place.
It’s great to see more and more customers are bringing their reusable drink bottles and keep cups on board, and we encourage people to do this – our cabin crew team is happy to fill these,” she added.
People perceive the airline to be the “green” flying option but this isn’t exactly the case. A previous report by Stuff reveals that the the company is actually one of the country’s largest climate polluters. Air New Zealand is responsible for emitting 3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Furthermore, the airline’s carbon footprint has continued to grow each year. For instance, in 2018 emissions were 700,000 times higher than 2011.
Still, the company deserves some praise for its reduction of single-use plastic. When October rolls around, the airline will have avoided 29 million plastic cups, 15.5 million coffee cups and lids, 1.5 million plastic bags, 550,000 cheese trays, and 200,000 sauce packets.
Airlines in the U.S. have been attempting to tackle the sustainability issue as well. For example, Delta Airlines offers recycling onboard its aircraft and is working to reduce plastic waste as well.