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Air New Zealand doubles down on plastic waste reduction

Air New Zealand has committed to increasing the number of single-use plastic items it will remove from its operation this year by more than double, from 24 million to nearly 55 million items.

To mark Plastic Free July the airline has removed individual plastic water bottles from its Business Premier and Premium Economy cabins, as well as from its Works Deluxe offering on Tasman and Pacific Island services under five hours in duration. This is expected to divert more than 460,000 bottles from landfill annually and reduce carbon emissions by more than 300,000 kilograms per year by reducing weight on the aircraft.

Individual plastic sauce packets are being removed from Business Premier cabins on mainland North America and Hong Kong services, and these will be eliminated entirely from the global network by the end of October. Customers will instead be served sauce in reusable dishes which is expected to prevent around 200,000 plastic packets going to landfill each year.

The airline is also set to roll out coffee cups made from plants rather than plastic across its domestic and international networks from October, while plastic water cups will be transitioned to recyclable alternatives from September. The previous commitment targeted coffee and water cups on Air New Zealand’s domestic network where the majority of cups are used, however, the scope has now expanded to introduce the lower impact cups across the international network, lifting the total number of cups being replaced this year from 14.7 million to 44.5 million.

Air New Zealand’s Acting Head of Sustainability Anna Palairet says the airline is focused on reducing the amount of single-use plastic products it purchases at source, as the lack of composting infrastructure in New Zealand at present poses a challenge.

“Single-use plastic is a highly topical and visible issue for us and our customers, so we’re really pleased to be able to share this progress to celebrate Plastic Free July. The lack of composting infrastructure available in New Zealand is a challenge so we have been focused on reducing the amount of single-use plastic products we purchase in the first place.

“It’s great to see more and more customers are bringing their reusable drink bottles and keep cups on board, and we encourage people to do this – our cabin crew team is happy to fill these.”

Single use plastic item Items of waste avoided per annum (approx.)
substituted by end of October
Plastic cups 29 m (up from 7.4m)
Café cups and lids 15.5 m (up from 7.3m)
Cheese trays 550 k
Atlas lids 45 k
Other plastic bags 1.5 m
Sauce packets 200 k
Already substituted/removed
Water bottles460 k
Stirrers 7.1 m
Toothbrushes 260 k
Eye mask wrappers 260 k
Straws 3 k

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