Flying kangaroo goes green

Monday, 13 May, 2019

Flying kangaroo goes green

Qantas has raised the sustainability bar for the airline industry by launching what is claimed to be the world’s first zero-waste commercial flight.

Partnering with BioPak and SUEZ, all inflight products on QF739 flying from Sydney to Adelaide were disposed of via compost, re-use or recycling, with no waste going to landfill.

Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David said the trial flight was an important milestone for the national carrier’s plan to slash waste. Zero-waste flying marks the start of the company’s goal to cut 100 million single-use plastics by the end of 2020 and eliminate 75% of the airline’s waste by the end of 2021.

“In the process of carrying over 50 million people every year, Qantas and Jetstar currently produce an amount of waste equivalent to 80 fully laden Boeing 747 jumbo jets,” David said. He added that a Sydney to Adelaide flight would typically produce 34 kg of waste, with the route producing 150 tonnes of waste annually.

The waste-reduction initiative has been named The Bowerbird Project after the Australian bird that re-uses small plastic items. About 1000 single-use plastic items were substituted with sustainable alternatives or removed altogether from the flight, including individually packaged servings of milk and Vegemite.

BioPak’s compostable packaging replaced a range of inflight single-use plastics and disposable food packaging items, such as meal containers made from sugar cane and cutlery made from crop starch. At the end of the meal service, Qantas cabin crew collected the items for re-use, recycling or composting in multiple waste streams.

“We are delighted to team up with Qantas Group in what is an unprecedented step forward in fighting the war on waste,” BioPak CEO Gary Smith said.

“This is the most ambitious waste reduction target of any major airline globally, and we are truly excited to be at the forefront in providing state-of-the-art, eco-friendly products that solve the impending issue of single-use plastics.”

SUEZ Australia and New Zealand’s Justin Frank said, “SUEZ is very happy to see our partner Qantas take such an important step towards being a more sustainable operator and reducing their overall impact on the environment.

“SUEZ and Qantas have collaborated for over 15 years now and we’re looking forward to continuing to help them achieve their targets of diverting waste from landfill, using sustainable products and avoiding use altogether,” he added.

In addition to products such as compostable coffee cups, food containers and cutlery, customers used digital boarding passes and electronic bag tags where possible, with staff on hand to make sure any paper passes and tags were disposed of sustainably. The Qantas lounges at Sydney Airport’s domestic terminal also went ‘green’ for the flight, with multiple waste streams in use.

Image courtesy of BioPak: Image caption (L to R): Justin Frank (SUEZ Director), David Speirs (SA Environment and Water Minister), Andrew Parker (Qantas Group Executive), Gary Smith (BioPak CEO).

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