Qantas flies world’s first zero-waste flight

The carrier replaced 1,000 plastic items with compostable, reusable or recyclable alternatives

Australian carrier Qantas has marked an important milestone towards the improvement of its environmental protection. On Wednesday, 8 May, the airline flew the world’s very first commercial flight producing zero waste.

The trial flight was an important milestone for the carrier’s plan to slash waste — ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock Qantas flies world’s first zero-waste flight
The trial flight was an important milestone for the carrier’s plan to slash waste — ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

Instead of 1,000 single-use plastic items onboard of the QF739 flight from Sydney to Adelaide, the carrier used sustainable alternatives.

All the products replacing the old utensils can be composted, recycled or reused.

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,” 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.”

All items are compostable, reusable or recyclable — Qantas Qantas flies world’s first zero-waste flight
All items are compostable, reusable or recyclable — Qantas

David added that this flight would typically produce 34 kilograms. Annually, the Sydney to Adelaide route creates 150 tonnes of waste.

“This flight is about testing our products, refining the waste process and getting feedback from our customers,” David said.

Qantas to reduce landfill waste by 70%

The unprecedented flight marks the start of Qantas’ ambitious plan. The carrier aims to cut 100 million single-use plastics by end-2020. Eventually, they will eliminate 75 per cent of the airline’s waste by end-2021.

“Few industries can eradicate waste completely, but with this programme, we’re saying that avoidable waste should no longer be an acceptable by-product of how we do business,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.

“This isn’t just the right thing to do, it is good for business and will put us ahead of legislative requirements in the various countries we operate in, where there is an end-date on various single-use plastics.

He added that the group would ask for help from the staff, customers, suppliers and regulators to help them reach the goal.