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Plastic-Free Flights

Discover what airlines are doing to reduce the amount of plastic waste from flights with plastic-free flights.

 

If you are also interested in eco-friendly airlines, eco-friendly airports and what you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your flight, make sure to check out the relevant pages.

 

What is a plastic-free flight?

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The reduction of single-use plastic waste is a hot topic at the moment, and people are trying to reduce their amount of plastic waste in all aspects of their life - including when flying.

The war on plastic is so prominent mainly due to the amount of plastics that we use in everyday life, but also the length of time that it takes to break down. A plastic straw, for example, can take up to 200 years to break down in the environment - also resulting in wildlife ingesting it and causing harm.

A single-use plastic is something that is only used once. For flights, this is often toiletries in amenity packs, plastic wrapping for cutlery and food wrapping.

There are some airlines leading the way for being plastic-free, all as part of an effort to be more environmentally friendly.

Airlines operating plastic-free flight

Hi Fly

In January 2019, Portuguese airline Hi Fly completes a trial of a plastic-free flight. The flight, which flew from Lisbon, Portugal to Natal, Brazil, took place on 26th December 2018 and carried more than 700 passengers. Although this was originally just trial flights, the Hi Fly president has said that he aims to be the first plastic-free airline by 2020.

Some of the plastic items which were replaced with sustainable alternatives such as bamboo and other compostable materials included cups, cutlery, salt and pepper shakers, sick bags, packaging for blankets and pillows, dishes, food packaging, and toothbrushes.

In just the test flights alone, the airline prevented around 350 kg of single-use plastics from entering the environment, clearly having a huge impact on the environment already.

Emirates

In June 2019, this airline has committed to reducing its plastic consumption and waste onboard its flights. Paper straws have already replaced the plastic ones as of June 2019, and the airline has pledged that they will ban and replace plastic stirrers by the end of the year. Any inflight purchases that are made will be wrapped in a paper bag, as opposed to a plastic one.

The airline has already trialled the plastic-free flights, as well as exploring different recycling schemes on board. It is believed that these actions will help to remove over 80 million single-use plastic items from landfill, every year.

This is also in addition to the actions in 2017 by the airline, to replace the flight blankets with ones made from recycled plastic bottles, called ecoTHREAD.

Ryanair

Ryanair announced that they are due to become completely plastic-free by 2023. Not only will this pledge affect the flight and services, but also the companies head offices, bases and total operations. They say it will be done by making the switch to more sustainable materials, such as wooden cutlery, bio-degradable coffee cups and plastic wrapping on in-flight products.

What are other airlines doing to work towards being plastic-free?

Alaska Airlines

In June 2018, Alaska Airlines became the first US airline to ban plastic straws on flights. These were replaced with more sustainable, non-plastic straws. The airline also replaced the majority of their juice boxes with aluminium cans, which are recyclable.

Thai Airways

Thai Airways have pledged to reduce their use of single-use plastics onboard their flights, starting in 2018.

Fiji Airways

Fiji Airways made a similar pledge to Thai Airways in 2018, stating that they were planning to begin reducing their plastic waste onboard flights.

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