Etihad Airways will be the first airline in the region to operate a flight without any single-use plastics on board, in a bid to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution, on the occasion of Earth Day.
Flight EY484 will depart from Abu Dhabi on 21st April, 2019, and land in Brisbane on 22nd April, 2019, which is observed as Earth Day.
H.H. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport, said, "Sustainable and efficient transport is core to the government’s vision, and we commend Etihad’s proactivity in paving the way for sustainability and efficiency in air transportation."
The milestone flight is part of Etihad’s ongoing commitment to reduce single-use plastic usage by 80 percent not just in-flight, but across the entire organisation by the end of 2022.
Last year, the United Nations called for global action to beat plastic pollution, stating that 400 million tonnes of plastics are produced every year, 63 percent of which are intended for single-use. Governments around the world are starting to ban single-use plastics, which is something the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi advocates.
Buzz, Etihad’s current supplier of amenity products, are supporters of the project and have collaborated with the airline to provide sustainable amenity kits, eco-plush toys, and award-winning eco-thread blankets. Buzz produced the blankets out of recycled plastic bottles.
Etihad identified over 95 single-use plastic products used across aircraft cabins, most of which were replaced with eco-friendly alternatives including cups, cutlery, dishes, headset bags, cart seals and toothbrushes. Once removed from this flight, Etihad prevented over 50 kilograms of plastics from being landfilled. Where suitable replacements could not be sourced, these items were not loaded.
As a result of planning the Earth Day flight, Etihad additionally committed to removing up to 20 percent of the single-use plastic items on board by 1st June, 2019. By the end of this year, Etihad will have removed 100 tonnes of single-use plastics from its inflight service.
Employees of Etihad’s Ramp Management team, based at Abu Dhabi International Airport launched an initiative to reduce 1.6 million plastic bottles in a year. During the summer months, over 13,000 bottles are distributed daily. As of last month, 19-litre water dispensers were distributed across all break-room facilities, not only reducing single-use plastics but also saving the airline AED800,000 yearly.