World’s first zero-waste flight takes to the skies

The first-ever commercial flight to produce no landfill waste took off on Wednesday 8 May and marked the start of Australian airline Qantas’ plan to cut 100 million single-use plastics by the end of 2020 and eliminate 75% of the airline’s waste by the end of 2021.

All inflight products on board QF739, which was flying from Sydney to Adelaide, were disposed of via compost, reuse or recycling.

About 1 000 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 included 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 (from the Qantas ‘Green Team’) collected the items left over for reuse, recycling or composting in multiple waste streams.

Customers used digital boarding passes and electronic bag tags where possible, with staff on hand to make sure any paper passes and tags were disposed of sustainably.

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. We want to give customers the same level of service they currently enjoy, but without the amount of waste that comes with it,’ David said.

He said that this flight would typically produce 34 kilograms of waste – with the Sydney to Adelaide route producing 150 tons of waste annually.

“This flight is about testing our products, refining the waste process and getting feedback from our customers,” David concluded.

In December 2018, Hi Fly, a company which leases aircraft in Portugal and Malta, operated the world’s first flight with no single-use plastics onboard.

 

Image: Qantas

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