In October last year, the BBC series Blue Planet II was released to viewers. It has been one of the most outstanding works of art, photography, nature and social contribution since its start in 2001.
For those who haven’t seen it, Blue Planet is a series of documentaries narrated by David Attenborough that focuses on showing the untold and “never catch on camera” stories of the natural world. The first series never intended to show the negative impact that our careless behaviour has to the planet, but in Blue Planet II, there is a urgent message to all of us to be careful of what we are doing with our lands and oceans.
The documentary has had a really big impact on hundreds of thousands of people who are willing to tackle plastic pollution, not only in the UK but also in countries like China as well. Small initiatives like picking up rubbish from our beaches or changing habits towards the irresponsible use of plastic can make a big difference on land. This initiative hasn’t been unnoticed for local governments addressing this issue, but what about in the sky?
Plastic in the sky
One of the world's largest airlines, prepares up to 180,000 meals every day for more than 400 daily flights, There are over 5000 airlines in the world. According to the International Air Transport Association, airlines produced 5.2 million tons of waste last year, and will produce over 10 million tons annually by 2030.
Single Meal, 12 plastic items. Shocking
American and Alaska Airlines are the first companies that have started implementing strategies to tackle the use of plastic, using “biodegradable” straws and mixing sticks made of bamboo. Unfortunately American Airlines has done it only in their VIP rooms. Potentially, with this change they will reduce an average of 32,000 kilograms of plastic waste each year.
Another important example is Tame, an Ecuadorian Airline which has stopped taking plastic water bottles and other contaminants in their flights to Galapagos Islands, according to a new government initiative to preserve the fauna and flora of this natural preserve.
Delta, Virgin, Southwest and Continental have an inbound recycling programme, they mostly sort out aluminum from organic and plastic, a good initiative but still a long way to go.
There are many alternatives to reduce single use plastic. Many companies have been researching and creating friendly solutions for our polluted world: The Indian company Bakeys has created spoons, forks and chopsticks made of rice, wheat and sorghum flour, with the aim to reduce plastic waste. Another company is Ecogreen that makes products with corn starch that return to nature, biodegrade in 180 days and are compostable. Why not to be the first airline to create a partnership with one of those companies and start to reduce waste?
We are sure that if each airline in the world takes small steps like this ones, the impact will be enormous.
It would be a great marketing strategy, not only the airline you manage or you are working for, to be the first plastic free airline in the world, but also, the contribution that you would have in every single flight to explain and teach every passenger why looking after our planet is important. The passengers will have a good approach for the things you do, how you serve food, why you top up, why you don’t have straws, why you recycle. This will create a massive difference in the market and a competitive added value to the airline.