AirNZ’s saucy plan to double cuts to single-use plastic

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July 08, 2019
Air New Zealand new ceo
Photo: Steve Creedy

The demise of plastic water bottles and an end to individual sauce packets will help Air New Zealand more than double the number of single-use items removed from its flights this year.

The airline has committed to increasing the number of single-use plastics items removed from its operations in 2019  from 24 million to almost 50 million.

Already gone in July are individual plastic water bottles from Business Premier and premium economy as well as from Works Deluxe packages on Tasman and Pacific Island flights of less than five hours.

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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.

The individual sauce packets are being replaced by reusable dishes, firstly in Business Premier cabins on mainland North America and Hong Kong services and then on the entire network by the end of October.

This eliminates another 200,000 plastic packets.

AirNZ also plans to replace plastic coffee cups with containers made from plants by the end of October and change plastic water cups to recyclable alternatives from September.

The expansion of this project to include international flights from a  previous commitment targeting coffee and water cups on the domestic network will increase the total number of cups being replaced this year from 14.7 million to 44.5 million.

Air New Zealand acting head of sustainability Anna Palairet said single-use plastic was a highly topical and visible issue for the airline and its customers.

“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,’’ she said.

“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.”

Among the plastic items already substituted by Air NZ are stirrers, toothbrushes, eye mask wrappers and straws.