Portuguese carrier Hi Fly has become the first airline to operate a “plastics-free” flight, in the run up to a total ban of single-use plastic from all of its flights this year.
Hi Fly replaced plastic cutlery and containers with bamboo and compostable alternatives crafted from recycled material. Among the single-use plastic items that have been replaced are cups, spoons, salt and pepper shakers, packaging for bedding, dishes, individual butter pots, soft drink bottles and toothbrushes.
The flight – which took off from Lisbon, Portugal to Natale, Brazil on 26 December – was a test run for the company whose goals is to completely ban the use of single-use plastic from all of their flights in 2019.
Hi Fly plan on conducting three more test runs in which they will be replacing plastic containers with natural bamboo cutlery and compostable containers by Vegware, and use items made of plant-based, renewable, low-carbon, and recycled materials.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airline passengers generated over 5.7 million tonnes of cabin waste in 2017. This figure could double within 15 years if no action is taken.
Hi Fly President Paulo Mirpuri said: “Up until now, human beings have believed the ocean is an inexhaustible source of food and pleasure as well as a limitless garbage dump. The reality however, is that the ocean has its limits, and they are very close to being reached. We can no longer ignore the impact plastic contamination has on ecosystems, as well as on human health.”
Since the summer of 2017, Hi Fly has been putting forward a number of initiatives aimed at raising awareness and fighting against the single use of plastic. The airline painted one of its Airbus A330s, which is now flying all over the world, with the message “Turn the Tide on Plastic” in support of the United Nations “Clean Seas” campaign.
Other airlines pledging to stop using single-use include Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand is swapping out cups, coffee cups and lids, cheese plates and lids, and plastic bags over the next 12 months, after already removing single-use plastic straws, stir sticks, eye mask wrappers, and plastic toothbrushes from lounges and on board aircraft to reduce its plastic footprint.
Last year, Ryanair pledged to go plastic-free by 2023 as part of a five-year plan to become “the greenest airline”, in part by eliminating non-recyclable plastics from both its aircraft and head offices.
Ryanair’s rival easyjet is introducing new hot drinks cups which use a plant-based lining and are compostable and are replacing plastic drinks stirrers and spoons with wooden alternatives. The airline currently offer a 50p discount on hot drinks for customers who use their own reusable cup.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea