Qantas flies world’s first zero-waste flight

Single-use plastic up on a flight.

Qantas has flown the world’s first zero-waste flight. All the products on-board the Sydney to Adelaide flight will either be re-used, recycled or composted.

The flight would normally produce 34 kilograms of waste, however, about 1000 single-use plastic items were substituted with sustainable alternatives or removed altogether.

Instances of alternative products included fully-compostable options like meal containers made from sugar cane and cutlery made from crop starch. Qantas cabin crew collected leftover food items to be sorted for reuse, recycling or composting.

“In the process of carrying over 50 million people every year, Qantas and Jetstar currently produce an amount of waste equivalent to 80-fully laden Boeing jumbo jets,” said Andrew David, CEO, Qantas Domestic.

“We want to give customers the same level of service they currently enjoy, but without the amount of waste that comes with it.”

Passengers on the flight used digital boarding passes and electronic bag tags where possible, and staff carefully collected the few paper passes and tags to ensure they were disposed of properly.

As an airline, Qantas is legally obliged to dispose of some materials permanently, such as quarantined food in international flights; however, Qantas aims to work alongside suppliers and the Government to reduce this waste.

The airline plans to eliminate 100 million single-use plastics by the end of 2020, and remove 75 percent of the airline’s waste by the end of 2021.