British Airways has already made significant steps to remove 25 million individual items of single-use plastic on board each year, equivalent to 90 tonnes, and has now set itself an ambitious target to increase this by more than 700%.
Working closely with its suppliers to identify areas for change, BA will this year replace as many as possible with recyclable or re-usable items or items from sustainable sources.
So far, British Airways have made huge changes in how they are doing things, having already eradicated plastic drinks stirrers and replaced them with with bamboo alternatives, reduced plastic packaging on Club World amenity kits and ditched the plastic wrapping for all bedding and blankets for paper wrapping, a move that is also in the process of transition across all cabins. Plastic wrapping on headsets have been dropped and Water bottles on board are made from 50% recycled plastic. Inflight retail plastic bags are now also a thing of the past.
The target for the coming year includes sourcing alternatives to single-use plastic cutlery, tumblers, cups, toothpicks and butter packaging on board.
The airline has spoken of this transition and described the process of complex, requiring significant research to ensure that the alternative products sourced are credibly sustainable, offer the same hygiene levels as their plastic counterparts and do not outweigh the items they replace. Customer experience manager Kate Tanner said: “Our customers have told us that they want to see these changes and we’re pleased to have made real strides in our journey to becoming more sustainable.
“We’ve spent a long time researching how to make sustainable changes without causing environmental impact elsewhere. For instance, we are looking at the amount of water and detergent needed to wash metal cutlery and how often it needs to be replaced versus using plastic or bamboo cutlery.
“We’ve looked at how we ensure blankets and other items can be kept clean without a plastic covering and the lifespan of all the new items compared to the existing ones. Some potential replacement options may be heavier, which would then have an impact on the weight of the aircraft and therefore on our emissions, so we must ensure we are making the right choices on all replacements.”
With an airline team of more than 170 employees recruited for the ‘War on Waste’ cabin crew who promote best practice among crew and identify potential new initiatives to improve waste reduction and recycling practices on board.