Etihad Airways, the national airline of United Arab Emirates, 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.The plastic-free flight EY484 will depart Abu Dhabi on April 21, landing in Brisbane on April 22—Earth Day.
The milestone flight is part of Etihad’s ongoing commitment to the environment, to go beyond Earth Day celebrations, and pledge to reduce single-use plastic usage by 80 percent, not just in-flight but across the entire organization by the end of 2022. Last year, the United Nations called for global action to beat plastic pollution, stating that 440 million tons of plastics are produced every year, 63 percent of which are intended for single-use.
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 eco-thread blankets. Even further, we're told the blankets were made from recycled plastic bottles. The airline also worked with suppliers to ensure products were not wrapped in single-use plastics. For others, more innovative products had to be sourced, including Cupffee’s, edible coffee cups, made entirely out of natural grain products.
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 110 pounds 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 remove up to 20 percent of the single-use plastic items on board by June 1. By the end of this year, Etihad is hoping to remove 220,000 pounds of single-use plastics from its inflight service.
Employees of Etihad’s ramp management team, based at Abu Dhabi International Airport, also launched an initiative to save 1.6 million plastic bottles in a year; during the summer months, over 13,000 bottles are distributed daily. As of last month, 19-liter water dispensers were distributed across all break-room facilities.
To continue Etihad’s commitment to sustainability, the airline will also work with the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi on their marine environment clean-up, amongst other initiatives, to ensure environmental sustainability.