Qantas is an Australian Airlines that has flown its first zero-waste flight, amid a growing movement to ban single-use plastics. Here’s how it tackled the single-use plastic problem.
What Are Single Use Plastics?
Single-use plastics are made from fossil fuels and take many years to biodegrade. Examples of these plastics include plastic bags from shops or plastic bottles that are not compostable. As a result, these plastics really put a dent in sustainability as millions of tons of these plastics litter the ocean, affecting the marine ecosystem. Here’s how plastics are prevalent in airplane flights.
The Plastic Problem
Airplane flights are notorious for using single-use plastics as it’s easy to use when most passengers are only flying for a day or less. In fact, Andrew David, CEO of Qantas Domestic and Freight stated, “A typical cross-country flight from Sydney to Adelaide, which is a distance of 722 miles, generates about 75 pounds of waste.”
Annually, this becomes 150 tons of waste, which makes finding a solution to this problem all the more critical to achieving sustainability. Luckily, Qantas is tackling the plastic problem head-on.
The Qantas Solution
Qantas has resolved this issue by finding a sustainable alternative to these single-use plastics. In fact, all its in-flight products are either fully recyclable, compostable, or reusable. For example, some of the sustainable alternatives used included sugar cane containers and crop starch cutlery. Some products were removed altogether, including the individually packaged servings of milk and Vegemite.
Qantas has definitely set an example for other airline companies to follow. The fight to end the use of plastics is a step in the right direction for sustainability. Qantas hopes that other airline companies find their own ways to cut down on waste, seeing how flights themselves burn through a lot of fossil fuels. With Qantas striving to make flights sustainable, they are positively impacting the flight industry.
Surya is a writer for the Transportation section at The Rising and a Computer Science student at UC Santa Cruz.