Flying Kangaroo makes history with first ‘waste-free’ flight

Flying Kangaroo makes history with first ‘waste-free’ flight

May 13, 2019
Press Release: Qantas

The Australian national carrier’s waste-reduction initiative has been called ‘The Bowerbird Project’, named after the Australian bird that reuses small plastic items

Australian flagship carrier Qantas has made sustainability history after taking to the skies last week in what it stated in a release was the world’s first zero-waste commercial flight. The first-of-its-kind journey wasn’t without its challenges, however, as the airline had to scrap or refashion some of the items that it’s customers have come to expect from the ‘Flying Kangaroo’.

The QF737 service – which traveled from Sydney to Adelaide – produced no landfill waste as part of a company-wide commitment to cut 100 million single-use plastics by the end of 2020, as well as reduce waste by 75% by the end of 2021. All in-flight products can be reused, recycled or disposed of via compost, according to a statement from the airline, and the flight will also be 100% carbon offset. The airline teamed up with composting solutions company BioPak to pull off the ground-breaking flight. Qantas domestic CEO Andrew David said the flight was about “testing our products, refining the waste process and getting feedback from our customers”.

“Qantas and Jetstar currently produce an amount of waste equivalent to 80 fully-laden Boeing 747 jumbo jets,” David explained. “We want to give customers the same level of service they currently enjoy, but without the amount of waste that comes with it.”

The Sydney-to-Adelaide flight would typically produce 34kg of waste, according to David, which is 150 tonnes annually. Whittling the waste down to zero for the service involved substituting around 1,000 single-use plastic items for more sustainable options – or simply removing them from the flight altogether. Passengers can look forward to containers made from sugar cane and cutlery made from crop starch, both of which are compostable.

Even Qantas’ customers went ‘green’ for the trial flight, using digital boarding passes and e-tags for baggage where possible, with staff on-hand to ensure any paper passes and tags were disposed of sustainably.

Ultimately, the environmental benefit does hinge on the additional clean-up efforts of cabin crew, who’ll be charged with sorting all leftover items into different recycling and waste streams once the flight is over.

While the zero waste flight is a step in the right direction, there’s more hard work to come — in order to honor the company’s pledge to remove 100 million single-use plastic items every year by the end of 2020, Qantas and Jetstar will have to replace 45 million plastic cups, 30 million cutlery sets, 21 million coffee cups and four million headrest covers with sustainable alternatives.

Plastic Free World Conference & Expo 2019 will take place from Thursday 27 June to Friday 28 June, at the Kap Europa, Frankfurt Messe, Frankfurt, Germany. To register for this highly focused and solutions-driven event, please click here. For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please email peter@trans-globalevents.com

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