Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is the first airline in the region to operate an ultra long-haul flight without any single-use plastics on board, in a bid to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution. The flight landed in Brisbane on 22 April – Earth Day.
Earth Day is now a global event each year, with over 1 billion people in 192 countries taking part in large-scale civic and political action. 2020 will mark Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary, and with plastic pollution being one of the biggest issues the planet faces, the organisation has committed to a multi-year campaign to eliminate plastic pollution. Since the beginning of the campaign in 2018, consumers and companies alike are broadly committing to the effort, and Etihad’s initiative is a great example of what can be achieved when the world works together to bring about ecological change.
Etihad identified over 95 single-use plastic products used across its aircraft cabins. Once removed from aircraft, Etihad prevented over 50 kilograms of plastics from being sent to landfill in that single flight. The flight is a big part of Etihad’s ongoing commitment to protecting the environment, and the airline has pledged to reduce it’s single-use plastic consumption by 80% by the end of 2022.
H.H. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport said: “Sustainable and efficient transport is core to the government’s vision, and we commend Etihad’s proactivity in paving the way for sustainability and efficiency in air transportation. The investment in sustainable alternative fuels and the focus on emerging environmental concerns such as plastic pollution reaffirms Etihad’s commitment to the Abu Dhabi transport vision.”
Guests on board enjoyed eco-friendly products such as sustainable amenity kits, award-winning eco-thread blankets made out of recycled plastic bottles, tablet toothpaste and edible coffee cups while children were treated to eco-plush toys. Where sustainable alternatives to in-flight amenities could not be sourced, the items instead were withheld from the flight.
As a result of planning the Earth Day flight, Etihad additionally committed to remove up to 20 per cent of the single-use plastic items on board by 1 June 2019. By the end of this year, Etihad will have removed 100 tonnes of single-use plastics from its in flight service.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “There is a growing concern globally about the overuse of plastics which can take thousands of years to decompose. We discovered we could remove 27 million single-use plastic lids from our inflight service a year and, as a leading airline, it’s our responsibility to act on this, to challenge industry standards and work with suppliers who provide lower impact alternatives.”
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Main Image: Etihad 787-9, LoadedAaron, Flickr Creative Commons