Alaska Airlines get rid of plastic straws

The carrier has been “stirred to action” and will replace single-use, non-recyclable, plastic stir straws and citrus picks with more eco-friendly alternatives

Alaska Airlines have made another step towards a healthier planet as they have announced an initiative to replace single-use, non-recyclable, plastic stir straws and citrus picks on international and domestic flights with more sustainable alternatives.

Alaska Airlines to ditch  single-use, non-recyclable, plastic stir straws and citrus picks on international and domestic flights — Chris Parypa Photography / Shutterstock Alaska Airlines get rid of plastic straws
Alaska Airlines will ditch much of the disposable plastic used on their planes – Chris Parypa Photography / Shutterstock

The plan was organised through a partnership with a non-profit organisation, Lonely Whale, and the carrier’s goal is to get “stirred to action” and to reduce in-flight waste per passenger going to landfills by 70 per cent by 2020.

“Whether providing fantastic service or leading in sustainability, caring about people and communities is in our DNA,” said Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of external relations.

“Without a doubt, we fly to some of the most beautiful places on earth, including many communities that depend on healthy oceans. We’re thrilled to partner with Lonely Whale to take this next step in our sustainability journey, and help keep the places we live and fly beautiful for years to come. It’s especially appropriate now as ending plastic pollution was the theme for Earth Day this year.”

Plastic straws that cannot be recycled have been proven to constitute a huge threat towards the marine life including killing birds and other species. Only in 2017, handed out 22 million plastic stir straws and citrus picks. Now the carrier aims to use white birch stir sticks and a bamboo alternative for the citrus pick.

“Assisting Alaska Airlines in removing plastic straws is an incredible opportunity,” said Dune Ives, Lonely Whale’s executive director.

“The airline has the most comprehensive in-flight recycling program of any U.S. carrier to date, and their previous and future commitments to biofuels and sustainability makes them the perfect partner for Lonely Whale. The banning of single-use plastic beverage straws sets a new standard for the travel industry, and we couldn’t be happier that Alaska Airlines is the first. US airline to lead the charge.”

Last year, Lonely Whale launched For a Strawless Ocean, a free public resource to reduce ocean plastic pollution. Starting with the elimination of single-use straws, the resource was designed as a toolkit to educate and demonstrate practical use cases.

The carrier’s plan is also well accepted by crew members on Alaska Airlines flights. Flight attendant Abbe Gloor, who herself is one of Alaska’s most enthusiastic inflight recyclers, welcomed the news warmly.

“This change is a good thing and a small step in the right direction. When it comes to the environment, we can all do a little bit better,” she said.

“It was all the plastic that I observed when visiting beaches around the world that motivated me to act, so as a company that flies people to beautiful beaches, this makes a lot of sense.”