Air New Zealand gets rid of single-use plastics

The carrier will reduce the use of plastic utensils by 24 million items per year

Air New Zealand, the best airline in 2018 according to AirlineRatings.com, has decided to extend its eco-friendly policy. Over the next 12 months, the flag carrier will get rid of five single-use plastic products across its domestic services. It will also remove water cups, café cups and lids, Koru Hour cheese plates and lids, as well as nine types of plastic bags network-wide.

Air New Zealand will avoid using 24 million plastic items per year — Air Mehdi Photos / Shutterstock. Air New Zealand gets rid of single-use plastics
Air New Zealand will get rid of 24 million plastic items per year — Air Mehdi Photos / Shutterstock

Earlier this year, Air New Zealand had already removed single-use plastic straws, stir sticks, eye mask wrappers and plastic toothbrushes from lounges and on board aircraft.

By switching to lower impact alternatives, the airline aims to reduce its plastic footprint by 260,000 plastic toothbrushes, 3,000 straws, 7.1 million stirrers and 260,000 eye mask wrappers.

Alongside the measures already in place, the total amount of the airline’s plastic waste reduction will be extended to more than 24 million items per year.

According to Air New Zealand’s head of sustainability, Lisa Daniell, the idea came from the airline’s employees and its customers who she said had been a real catalyst for change.

“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 said.

“We know these are small steps but given our scale, they do result in a significant amount of single-use plastic being avoided.

American Airlines and Alaska air have implemented similar measures this year— EQRoy / Shutterstock Air New Zealand gets rid of single-use plastics
American Airlines and Alaska air have implemented similar measures this year — EQRoy / Shutterstock

“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 700 km).

“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 inflight single-use plastic products, as has the Ministry for the Environment,” Daniell said.

Airlines take action in solving the plastic crisis

Air New Zealand is not the only airline to implement measures against single-use plastics. In May this year, Alaska Airlines announced it was “stirred to action” and pledged to replace single-use, non-recyclable, plastic stir straws and citrus picks with more eco-friendly alternatives.

American Airlines announced similar moves in July. By replacing their single-use plastic accessories with a less damaging material, the carrier has got rid of the use of more than 32 tonnes of plastic per year.

Not only airline carriers have decided to take action in the global plastic waste crisis. With tons of plastics destroying its shores, the Italian island Isole Tremiti has banned the use of plastic utensils from its soil for good. Anyone caught with plastic accessories can face a fine between $60 to $600.