Alaska Airlines hopes to eliminate 1.8 million pounds of single-use plastics from its flights over the next year by swapping out plastic water bottles and single-use tumblers with cardboard boxed water and paper cups. The amount of single-use plastic removed each year through this latest eco initiative is equivalent to the weight of 18 Boeing 737 airplanes.
Onboard water will now be supplied by Michigan-based ‘Boxed Water Is Better’ which offers pure filtered water in cardboard cartons that are made out of 92 percent recycled material, including an all plant-based screw cap. All cartons are 100% recyclable, refillable, and BPA free.
Alaska first trialled Boxed Water earlier this year on flights operated by its subsidiary Horizon Air. Mini cartons were also tested out with First Class passengers who preferred Boxed Water to the old plastic water bottles at a rate of two-to-one.
The Seattle-based carrier will now roll out Boxed Water and paper cups across its route network with the hope of eliminating a staggering 32 million plastic bottles and 22 million plastic cups from its flights per year.
Diana Birkett Rakow, vice president of public affairs and sustainability for Alaska Airlines described the partnership with Boxed Water as the airline’s “most impactful plastic-reduction initiative yet”.
“As a West Coast-based airline, we fly to some of the most beautiful places on earth. Protecting these habitats is critical for our collective future, and reducing plastic waste is a key step,” Rakow continued.
Although Alaska Airlines did use recyclable plastic bottles, onboard recycling efforts were suspended at the start of the pandemic. And even when onboard recycling does restart, single-use plastic cups can’t yet be recycled.
The goal, however, is to move on from plastic entirely because only a small percentage is recycled each year in the United States.
“Although we have an industry-leading recycling program, the reality is that we need to move to renewable options,” commented Alaska’s managing director of guest products, Todd Traynor-Corey.
“Getting to this point hasn’t been easy. We investigated several options with our supply chain – and this year we finally found a product our guests love and a partner whose mission-driven values mirror our own.”
In the last few years, Alaska has eliminated hundreds of single-use waste items and was one of the first airlines in the world to switch to bamboo beverage stir sticks.
Earlier this year, the carrier announced its intention to reach net-zero by 2040, alongside five year plans to dramatically slash waste and boost recycling. Last month, Alaska even set up its own investment arm to help fund and nurture emerging technology that will help the airline on its path to reaching net-zero.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.