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The Qantas Group just announced a new initiative that could make it the world’s first airline to reuse, recycle and compost at least 75% of its waste by the end of 2021.

Currently, Qantas and Jetstar discard of more than 30,000 tons of waste a year. “That’s the same weight as about eighty 747 jumbos,” said Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce.“It is quite literally a waste and we have a responsibility to our customers, shareholders and the community to reduce it.”

The airline plans on reducing its waste by removing 100 million “single-use” plastic items. Which means, by the end of 2020, it will have replaced 45 million plastic cups, 30 million cutlery sets, 21 million coffee cups and 4 million headrest covers with environmentally-friendly alternatives. Qantas also plans on donating and composting more food and recycling old uniforms.

The airline said it would launch a new frequent flyer program as well that will offset carbon emissions. Starting sometime in 2019, customers will be able to earn 10 points per dollar spent offsetting their travel from Australia if they book on the Qantas website.  “Around 10% of passengers already choose to offset their flights so we’re hoping that the added incentive of earning Qantas Points helps to boost this number,” said Joyce.

For the single-use waste products that aren’t replaceable (like plastic wrappings used for hygienic purposes and specific heat resistant containers for meal prep), Qantas plans on collaborating with manufacturers and other airlines to develop new alternatives. “Few industries can eradicate waste completely,” said Joyce. “But with this program, we’re saying that avoidable waste should no longer be an acceptable by-product of how we do business.”

Featured image by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images.

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