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Hi Fly makes history with the first plastic-free flight

The trend of ‘waste-free’ flights to dramatically cut plastic rubbish

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Commercial aviation is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. The potential large environmental impact of aviation needs to be addressed by developing sustainable practices, which is not currently happening. Hi Fly could “no longer ignore” the impact the single-use material has on the environment. So the airline has made a commitment to change this and early this year made history with their first plastic-free flight. Exciting times and a glorious day to fly, prepare to take off for the first time in history with this plastic-free flight.

January 2019. Flight from Lisbon to Natal city, Brazil, makes history. The Portuguese airline Hi Fly makes history with their first-ever plastic-free flight.

This was one of the four trials the airline had set up to achieve their ambitious plans to be the first plastic-free airline by the end of next 2020.

And what is this plastic-free flight all about? Well, it’s as simple as replacing single-use plastics for more eco-friendly alternatives. The plastic cutlery was replaced with bamboo flatware, and the food was served on compostable, paper trays. Hi Fly replaced other single-use plastic items like cups, salt and pepper shakers, sick bags, packaging for bedding, dishes, individual butter pots, soft drink bottles.

“The historic Hi Fly flight, without any single-use plastic items on board, underlines our commitment to making Hi Fly the world’s first ‘plastic-free’ airline within 12 months. We take that commitment very seriously.” Paulo Mirpuri, Hi Fly President

The impact of plastic waste in the airlines

Only with Hi Fly test flights, around 350 KG of single-use plastics will be saved. A huge achievement if we consider how poisoning plastic is for our environment.

Reality is that over 100,000 flights take off each day around the world and, last year, commercial aircraft carried nearly 4 billion passengers. This number is expected to double again in less than 20 years. So, the potential to make a difference here is clearly enormous.

While most airline passengers look forward to seeing food and drinks service coming their way, there’s no doubt that this comes with a serious amount of single-use plastics. This is a pervasive problem, according to the UN Environmental Program, 79% of all single-use plastic ends up in a landfill or littered.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airline passengers generated over 5.7 million tonnes of cabin waste in 2017, a figure that would be set to double within fifteen years if no action was taken.

global plastic production graphic 2019

Hi Fly operated the first single-use plastic free flights in the world

The company is committed to contributing to a more responsible and sustainable planet by fighting against the very important issues that are plastic pollution and carbon emissions.

Aside from completing the first ever plastic-free flight, the business also is the first airline to declare that will be carbon neutral by 2021. For their Carbon Offset Program is now being tested and independently verified for implementation.

In their aim to move towards sustainability, Hi Fly is working at some specific tactics to deal with specific materials. From prevention, reuse, generation, source separation, recovery, collection, transfer, recycling, to treatment and disposal.

first plastic-free flight Hi Fly airline single use waste

Now other airlines are slowly starting to adopt more sustainable practices and kicking off with plastic-free flights by stopping the use of single-use plastic items.  Some of them are Qantas, Jetstar, Air New Zealand or RyanAir, this last airline has committed to going plastic-free both on flights and in its offices in the next five years.

Qantas and Jetstar plan to replace 45 million plastic cups, 30 million cutlery sets, 21 million coffee cups and four million headrest covers with sustainable alternatives.

Food waste from international flights cannot be composted due to legal requirements, but Qantas said it would work with suppliers and government to reduce the volume of this waste.

In the US, Alaska Airline, Delta, and American Airlines phased out single-use plastic straws on their flights.

Going free of single-use plastic should be a commitment made by all the airlines around the globe. While this news seems to us pretty positive, it’s important for governments to change legislation and criminalise companies that cause environmental damage.

first plastic-free flight Hi Fly airline single use waste

We have recently learned that the Ecocide law should be implemented so that larger corporations take responsibility for the climate crisis. We can do something about it, yes, on the most individual level. And this is how: by simply becoming an Earth Protector.

Did you ever have a chance to be part of a plastic-free flight? How do you feel about companies moving towards the abolition of single-use plastic?

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