British Airways has pledged to remove more than 700 tons of single-use plastics from its flight operations this year, amounting to more than a quarter of a billion items.
BA said it was working closely with suppliers to identify alternatives to single-use plastic items, and will replace “as many as possible” with recyclable or reusable items.
These include swapping plastic stirrers for bamboo alternatives; reducing plastic packaging on Club World amenity kits; using paper wrapping for bedding and blankets; removing plastic wrapping on headsets and instead placing them in paper charity envelopes; using water bottles made from 50% recycled plastic; and removing plastic bags for in-flight purchases.
According to BA, its efforts in 2020 will extend to seven times more plastic reduction than its previous target.
Its plastic reduction plans will also extended to single-use plastic cutlery, tumblers, cups, toothpicks and butter packaging.
Kate Tanner, BA’s customer experience manager, said: “Our customers told us 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 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.”
Tanner continued: “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.”
BA has also appointed a team of more than 170 War on Waste cabin crew champions to promote best practice, identify potential new initiatives and improve recycling practices.
The airline is also now expecting suppliers to offer sustainable alternatives as standard, and has pledged to make “continual changes to onboard products” as they become available.
BA commissioned eco-artist Sarah Turner (pictured) to create a giant suitcase from a thousand pieces of plastic waste to mark the start of the new initiative, representing the 30,000 suitcases’ worth of plastic it aims to remove.