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British Airways to cut 250 million single-use plastics

The UK’s flag carrier airline British Airways (BA) has announced an ambitious plan to remove over a quarter of a billion single-use plastics from its fl...

Marcus Lawrence
|Feb 26|magazine7 min read

The UK’s flag carrier airline British Airways (BA) has announced an ambitious plan to remove over a quarter of a billion single-use plastics from its flights over the course of 2020.

With that figure amounting to over 700 tonnes of plastic, BA is significantly upping the ante for its plastics removal programme. Thus far, its initiatives have removed 25 million individual items from its flights each year, with this announcement heralded a ten-fold expansion of its ambitions.

In its statement, the airline said it has thus far achieved a host of reductions across its single-use plastics inventory, including: providing bamboo coffee stirrers over plastic ones; cutting the plastic content of its Club World amenities; replacing plastic wrapping for bedding-related items with paper alternatives; removing plastic packaging for headsets; ensuring water bottles on board are comprised of 50% recycled materials; and removing in-flight carrier bags.

It is continuously seeking alternatives for other offending items, including cups, cutlery, toothpicks and butter packaging, and noted that all solutions undergo a rigorous selection process to ensure credible sustainability.

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The push for increased sustainability is driven further by BA’s 170-strong War on Waste crew champions responsible for ensuring best practice is delivered across all flights.

“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,” said Kate Tanner, British Airways’ Customer Experience Manager, in the press release  

“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.”