Qantas Trials First ‘Zero Waste’ Commercial Flight

May 8, 2019

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It’s an inconvenient truth of the airline industry that it’s one of the worst polluters in terms of carbon emissions. Fortunately some airlines have realized their impact on the Earth and are starting to do something about it.

Qantas, the Australian flag carrier, has trialed the first-ever flight that will allegedly produce no landfill waste. This is part of a pledge by the airline to eliminate 75% of its on-board waste and cut 100 million single-use plastics by 2021.

The flight, QF 739 flew from Sydney to Adelaide today and, all products on board were either composted, recycled or will be reused on a future flight.

“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,” Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David said in a statement.

Qantas says the flight normally would produce 34 kilograms of waste (about 75 pounds) and use 1,000 single use-plastics — which the airline replaced with “sustainable alternatives” or removed from the flight altogether. That means no single-serving packages of milk or the famous Australian staple, Vegemite.

Even better Qantas claims that it won’t be passing the costs along to customers.

“We are prepared to make this investment and over the long term it will reduce our costs,” David told the Sydney Morning Herald.

It’s great to see an airline taking concrete steps toward reducing its negative effects on the environment, but what about the elephant in the room, the immense carbon emissions from air travel? A recent report found that air travel was the primary driver behind increased carbon emissions in the US last year.

Qantas says the zero-waste flight was counterbalanced by its own carbon offset scheme, and the airline will actually soon be offering flyers 10 Qantas points per dollar when purchasing an offset for their next flight.

Featured image by Scott Barbour/Getty Images.

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