British Airways reveals plastic reduction target

British Airways has pledged to remove more than 250 million plastic items from its flights by the end of the year.

The airline is replacing plastic packaging and wrapping for items such as blankets and headsets with sustainable alternatives.

It is also seeking reusable or recyclable substitutes for plastic cutlery, tumblers, cups, toothpicks and butter packaging.

Plastic reductions already made by BA include using drink stirrers made from bamboo rather than plastic, removing in-flight plastic bags for retail purchases, and using water bottles made from 50% recycled plastic.

The airline said the amount of plastic it is planning to remove this year would fill more than 30,000 suitcases.

It marked the announcement by commissioning eco-artist Sarah Turner to create a giant suitcase made from waste plastic.

Eco-artist Sarah Turner adds the finishing touches to her creation (British Airways/PA)
Eco-artist Sarah Turner adds the finishing touches to her creation (British Airways/PA)

Kate Tanner, BA customer experience manager, warned that the process of removing plastic from flights is complex because alternatives must meet hygiene and weight requirements.

She said: “Our customers have told us that they want to see these changes and we’re pleased to have made real strides in our journey to becoming more sustainable.

“We’ve spent a long time researching how to make sustainable changes without causing environmental impact elsewhere.

“For instance, we are looking at the amount of water and detergent needed to wash metal cutlery and how often it needs to be replaced versus using plastic or bamboo cutlery.

“We’ve looked at how we ensure blankets and other items can be kept clean without a plastic covering and the lifespan of all the new items compared to the existing ones.

“Some potential replacement options may be heavier, which would then have an impact on the weight of the aircraft and therefore on our emissions, so we must ensure we are making the right choices on all replacements.”

British Airways began offsetting the carbon emissions from its domestic flights at the start of the year.

It has committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and is investing in the development of sustainable jet fuel as well as upgrading its fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft.