Qantas is slashing waste to reduce planetary impact. In the process of carrying up to 50 million people each year, Qantas claims it has had to deal with more than 30,000 tonnes of your total waste. That is remarkably about the same weight as about eighty 747 jumbos. In 2019, Qantas announced a commitment to reducing 75% of the Group’s onshore waste to landfill by 2021. But that wasn’t all, they also agreed on the removal of 100 million single use plastic items. So just what are these ‘waste reduction’ targets all about anyways?
According to the official Qantas website, a waste reduction target applies to waste to landfill generated in Australia. There is some waste however, that cannot currently recycle or reuse. Is this a major problem? Yes and no. They state that some of this is beyond their control due to quarantine restrictions or regulatory requirements. There are also some single use plastics such as wrapping for hygiene purposes and some heat resistant containers used for on-board food preparation, that don’t currently have a practical or sustainable alternative. Both Qantas and Jetstar are supposedly working with manufacturers and other airlines to innovate and to further reduce waste to landfill.
In May 2019, Qantas operated the first-ever commercial no waste to landfill flight. It was billed as the “world’s first zero waste flight”. Flying from Sydney to Adelaide, flight QF739 would typically generate 34kg of waste to landfill (or 150 tonnes of waste annually). This was done by substituting inflight products with so-called sustainable alternatives, and removing about 1,000 single use plastic products. The cabin crew disposed of the remaining waste via compost, reuse / recycling pathways, with 600g of waste generated from the flight (Although this number is not “zero”, its pretty low).
So dear readers, where is all this currently you ask? Qantas claims they were on track to achieving waste targets, but from March 2020 COVID-19 health and safety requirements meant they had to temporarily pause some of their initiatives. Rest assured, we are watching this story with much intrigue and will report back.