The first commercial flight without producing landfill waste has taken to the skies, marking the start of Australian national airline Qantas plan to cut 100 million single-use plastics by the end of 2020 and remove 75 percent of waste from the airline by the end -2021.
All in-flight products on board the QF739, flying from Sydney to Adelaide and handled by Qantas 'Green Team' cabin crew, were disposed of by compost, reuse or recycling.
Speaking on the flight's departure, Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David said the test flight was an important milestone in the national airline's plan to reduce waste.
"In the process of transporting more than 50 million people each year, Qantas and Jetstar currently produce an amount of waste equivalent to 80 fully loaded Boeing 747 jumbo jets," said David.
"We want to give customers the same level of service they currently enjoy, but without the amount of waste that goes with it."
Mr David said that this flight would typically produce 34 kilograms of waste, with the Sydney to Adelaide route producing 150 tons of waste per year.
"This flight is about testing our products, refining the waste process, and getting feedback from our customers," he said.
Around 1,000 single-use plastic items were replaced with sustainable alternatives or taken off the flight entirely, including individually packaged servings of milk and Vegemite.
Alternative products used during the flight included food containers made from sugar cane and cutlery made from farm starch, all of which are fully compostable.
At the end of the meals service, the Qantas cabin crew collected the items that were left to reuse, recycle or compost them in multiple waste streams.
Customers used digital boarding passes and e-bag tags whenever possible, with staff on hand to make sure any paper passes and tags were sustainably disposed of.
The Qantas lounges at the Sydney Airport Domestic Terminal were also “green” for the flight, with multiple waste streams in use.
In their effort to eliminate 100 million single-use plastic items each year by the end of 2020, Qantas and Jetstar will replace 45 million plastic cups, 30 million cutlery sets, 21 million coffee cups and 4 million headrest covers with sustainable alternatives.
Airlines have a legal obligation to dispose of some materials permanently, such as quarantined food from international flights.
Qantas will work with suppliers and the government to reduce the volume of this waste.
The national carrier's waste reduction initiative has been called The Bowerbird Project, named for the Australian bird that reuses small plastic items.
The name was nominated by a cabin crew member in a personnel competition.
The zero waste flight was also 100% carbon offset.
Qantas operates the largest carbon offset scheme in the aviation industry, with one passenger offsetting their flight every minute.
Starting in mid-2019, customers will earn 10 Qantas Points for every dollar spent to offset their travel from Australia, which is the highest standard earning rate of any frequent flyer initiative.
Last year, Qantas operated the first biofuel flight between Australia and the United States using biofuel processed from mustard seeds, and in 2012 Qantas and Jetstar operated Australia's first biofuel test flights.
David twomey. Article in English