Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, participated in Earth Day (April 22) by operating a flight without any single-use plastics on board. The flight (EY484) departed Abu Dhabi on April 21, and landed in Brisbane on April 22 in a bid to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution.
The flight is part of what Etihad says is an ongoing commitment to the environment by the airline, which will go beyond Earth Day celebrations, including a pledge to reduce single-use plastic usage by 80%, not just in-flight, but across the entire organization by the end of 2022.
Tony Douglas, group CEO of Etihad Aviation Group 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.”
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. Once removed from this flight, Etihad prevented over 50kg of plastics from being landfilled. Where suitable replacements could not be sourced, these items were not loaded.
Buzz, Etihad’s current supplier of amenity products, collaborated with the airline on this project to provide sustainable amenity kits, eco-plush toys and eco-thread blankets made out of recycled plastic bottles. In some instances, the sustainable choice was easy. Etihad worked with suppliers to ensure products were not wrapped in single-use plastics. For others, more innovative products had to be sourced, including Cupffee’s, edible coffee cups, made entirely out of natural grain products.
As a result of planning the Earth Day flight, Etihad additionally committed to remove up to 20% of the single-use plastic items used on board by June 1, 2019. By the end of this year, Etihad expects to have removed 100 tonnes of single-use plastics from its inflight service.