Qantas has flown the world’s first commercial flight to send zero waste to landfill.
Yesterday morning’s QF739 flight from Sydney to Adelaide sent all inflight products to compost, reuse, or recycling. According to Andrew David, CEO of Qantas Domestic, the flight was an important first step in the company’s plan to to cut 100 million single-use plastics by the end of 2020, and eliminate 75 per cent 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.
“We want to give customers the same level of service they currently enjoy, but without the amount of waste that comes with it,” he said.
Approximately 1000 pieces of single-use plastic were removed or substituted with compostable packaging supplied by BioPak, including single serving packets of milk and Vegemite. Meal containers were made from suger cane and cutlery from crop starch, and all leftover items were collected by staff and placed in multiple waste streams after the flight.
Additionally, digital boarding passes and electronic bag tags were used where possible.
This flight would typically produce 34 kilograms of waste, according to David, and the Sydney-Adelaide route creates 150 tonnes of waste every year.
“This flight is about testing our products, refining the waste process and getting feedback from our customers,” he said.
BioPak CEO Gary Smith said this was an "unprecedented" step in the war on waste.
“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.
“Innovation is at the heart of what we do. For more than a decade we have been working with companies across Australia and NZ to provide a viable solution to our current waste crisis, and it is wonderful to see Qantas Group join our ever-expanding network," he said.
Qantas and Jetstar plan to replace 45 million plastic cups, 30 million cutlery sets, 21 million coffee cups, and 4 million headrest covers with sustainable alternatives by the end of next year; the flight was also completely carbon offset.
The flight follows Etihad last month becoming the first airline in the world to fly an ultra-long-haul flight completely free of single-use plastics.