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Plastic Out the Window at 30,000 Feet

by Eddie Rayner

Eithad Airways is at the start of a three-year journey that aims to reduce single-use plastics across the entire organistation by 80% by the end of 2022.

A primary assessment was carried out to ensure that the 2022 goal was attainable. In some cases, single-use plastics were unavoidable, as they came in the form of an industry standard or precaution (for example, the plastic-wrapping of cargo boxes and wrappers around emergency kit tools); and in other cases, it was simply a luxury that could easily be replaced or removed.

The airline is now in the secondary assessment phase where it is focused on revising its procurement process. Indeed, it was delighted to see how its suppliers supported it in implementing many changes within their supply chains in order to support this flight, and is confident they will do the same to support the single-use plastic policy.

Through the test flight, Etihad Airways discovered that it could remove 27 million single-use plastic lids from its in-flight service a year and, as a leading airline, it believes that it is its responsibility to act on this, to challenge industry standards, and work with suppliers who provide lower impact alternatives.

As an immediate action, the airline has already removed up to 20% of single-use plastic items on board its aircraft. By the end of this year, it will have removed 100 tonnes of single-use plastics from its in-flight service.

Additionally, Etihad Airways has taken an internal step to reduce the number of disposable cutlery items it uses in its employee canteen by removing them altogether, reducing a staggering 447,600 pieces. They have been replaced by an environmentally friendly range of compostable cutlery for take-away food.