Australia – Qantas airlines has for the first time in the world operated a zero waste to landfill flight in a trial run between Sydney and Adelaide.
Earlier in the year the airline group announced its most ambitious waste reduction goal by any major airline globally, with plans to cut its amount of waste to landfill by 75 percent by end of 2021.
The trial flight by Australia’s national carrier marks the start of its plans to cut 100 million single-use plastics by end of2020 and eliminate 75 per cent of the airline’s waste to landfill by end of 2021.
All inflight products on the flight that was staffed by a cabin crew from the Qantas ‘Green Team’, is compostable, reusable or recyclable. In addition 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. Alternative products used during the flight include meal containers made from sugar cane and cutlery made from crop starch, all of which is fully compostable.
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 cut down on waste to landfill.
“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,” David said. “We want to give customers the same level of service they currently enjoy, but without the amount of waste that comes with it.”
David also said a typical Sydney to Adelaide flight produces 34 kilograms of waste and the route produces 150 tonnes of waste annually. He also added that the flight was about testing Qantas’ products, refining the waste process and getting feedback from customers.
Other measures put in place to reduce waste to landfill included the cabin crew collecting items left over from meals for reuse, recycling or composting in multiple waste streams. At the same time passengers used digital boarding passes and electronic bag tags where possible, with staff making sure any paper passes and tags were disposed of sustainably.
The Qantas lounges at Sydney Airport’s domestic terminal also went ‘green’ for the flight, with multiple waste streams in use.
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.
Besides efforts to cut waste to landfill Qantas also operates the largest carbon offset scheme in the aviation industry, with a passenger offsetting their flight every minute. From mid-2019, customers will earn 10 Qantas Points for every dollar spent offsetting their travel from Australia, which is the highest standard earn rate of any frequent flyer initiative.
In 2018 Qantas also operated its first biofuel flight between Australia and the United States using biofuel processed from mustard seed.