Etihad to Operate Region’s First Single-Use-Plastic-Free Flight

Etihad plans to become the first Middle Eastern airline to operate a flight without any single-use plastics on board on 'Earth Day' in a bid to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution

Flight EY484 will depart Abu Dhabi on 21 April, landing in Brisbane on 22 April .

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.”

Etihad has pledged to reduce single-use plastic usage by 80% across the entire organisation by the end of 2022.

Etihad Aviation Group chairman Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei said: “This step is an extension of Etihad’s pioneering environmental efforts. Inaugurating 2019 with the locally sourced biofuel flight and the operation of the longest single-use plastic free flight are testament to our commitment to leading effective change towards sustainability.”

Last year, the United Nations called for global action to beat plastic pollution, stating that 400 million tonnes of plastics are produced every year, 63% of which are for single-use.

Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas 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.”

Buzz, Etihad’s current supplier of amenity products, are supporters of the project and have collaborated with the airline to provide sustainable amenity kits, eco-plush toys and eco-thread blankets. Buzz pioneered and produced the blankets out of recycled plastic bottles.

Etihad has worked with suppliers to ensure products were not wrapped in single-use plastics and also introduced more innovative products, such as Cupffee’s edible coffee cups (above), made out of natural grain products.

Etihad identified over 95 single-use plastic products used across aircraft cabins, most of which were replaced with eco-friendly alternatives including cups, cutlery, dishes, headset bags, cart seals and toothbrushes, preventing over 50kgs of plastics ending up in landfill.

As a result of planning the Earth Day flight, Etihad committed to removing up to 20% of the single-use plastic items on board by June 1 and by the end of this year, the airline will have removed 100 tonnes of single-use plastics from its inflight service.

“We are making this promise not only for the environment but also for the wider community. Our guests and employees are largely responsible for facilitating this positive change, as they brought to our attention the effect plastics within our industry have on landfills, waterways and our oceans, contaminating our soil and water,” added Douglas.