The first-ever commercial flight to produce no
landfill waste took to the skies on Wednesday, marking the start
of Qantas’ plan to cut 100 million single-use plastics by end-2020
and eliminate 75% of the airline’s waste by end-2021.
All inflight products on board QF739, flying from Sydney to
Adelaide and staffed by cabin crew from the Qantas ‘Green Team’,
will be disposed of via compost, reuse or recycling.
Speaking at the flight’s departure, Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David
said the trial flight was an important milestone for the national
carrier’s plan to slash waste.
“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,” Mr David said. “We want to give customers the same level
of service they currently enjoy, but without the amount of waste
that comes with it.”
Mr David said this flight would typically
produce 34 kilograms of waste – with the Sydney to Adelaide route
producing 150 tonnes of waste annually.
“This flight is about
testing our products, refining the waste process and getting
feedback from our customers,” he said.
About 1000 single-use
plastic items were substituted with sustainable alternatives or
removed altogether from the flight, including
individually-packaged servings of milk and Vegemite.
Alternative products used during the flight include meal
containers made from sugar cane and cutlery made from crop starch,
all of which is fully compostable.
At the end of the meal
service, Qantas cabin crew collected the items left over for
reuse, recycling or composting in multiple waste streams.
Customers used digital boarding passes and electronic bag tags
where possible, with staff on hand to make sure any paper passes
and tags were disposed of sustainably.
The Qantas lounges at
Sydney Airport’s domestic terminal also went ‘green’ for the
flight, with multiple waste streams in use.
In its effort to
remove 100 million single use plastic items every 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.
legally required to dispose of some materials permanently, such as
quarantined food from international flights. Qantas has said
however that it will work with
suppliers and government to reduce the volume of this waste.
The national carrier’s waste reduction initiative has been called
The Bowerbird Project, named after the Australian bird that reuses
small plastic items. The name was nominated by a cabin crew member
in a staff competition.
The zero waste flight will be 100 per
cent carbon offset. Qantas operates the largest carbon offset
scheme in the aviation industry, with a passenger offsetting their
flight every minute. From mid-2019, customers will earn 10 Qantas
Points for every dollar spent offsetting their travel from
Australia, which is the highest standard earn rate of any frequent
Last year, Qantas operated the first biofuel
flight between Australia and the United States using biofuel
processed from mustard seed, and in 2012 Qantas and Jetstar
operated Australia’s first biofuel trial flights.
Hotel Waste, Single-Use Plastic and Climate Change - Exclusive
Video Interview with WWF.