As more alarming statistics on the growing plastic problem come to light, many businesses are putting their hands up to do their part to stop it. In our opinions, the more the better. Enter: Air New Zealand. They are one of the first airlines to pledge to reduce their single-use plastic usage and if this was Harry Potter, they’d get at least 1,000 house points.
Avoiding plastic on flights is near impossible (trust me, I’ve tried). From the sanitary bag the cutlery comes in, to water bottles, cups and even the plastic-encased headphones and blankets—planes produce a huge amount of plastic waste. This year though, Air New Zealand announced they will be phasing out single-use plastic, starting with five products in the next 12 months.
Plastic pollution is everywhere
The first products to go on domestic flights are water cups, café cups and lids, plastic cheese plates and lids, as well as nine types of plastic bags. These join plastic products that have already been ditched by the forward-thinking airline; plastic straws, stir sticks, eye mask wrappers and plastic toothbrushes have already been removed from airport lounges and on board aircrafts to boot. The airline will go without or replace the plastic products with others that have far less impact on the environment.
Air New Zealand’s Head of Sustainability Lisa Daniell says the great changes are all thanks to employees and demand from customers. “Plastics are top of mind for us and our customers. Several of our waste and plastic reduction initiatives have been brought about by our employees telling us we can do better in this area,” she says, “We know these are small steps but given our scale, they do result in a significant amount of single-use plastic being avoided.”
“If we were to line up all of the plastic stirrers we are replacing across our network, they would span the length of Cape Reinga to Taupo (around 700km).”
“We are also working closely with our suppliers, who to date have been really supportive in helping us search for new ways to directly procure a number of in-flight single-use plastic products, as has the Ministry for the Environment,” says Lisa.
It’s an amazing start and the results speak for themselves. In just one year the airline has predicted they will stop 24 million single-use plastics going into landfill (or the ocean). We can probably all take inspiration from this initiative, where small steps towards living waste-free can have a monumental impact on our environment.