Alaska Airlines Uses Pandemic To Reduce Carbon Footprint

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the U.S. in March of 2020, it crippled airlines.

The virus became the industry’s biggest financial crisis in history as the flying public dwindled dramatically, down to just five percent capacity on planes at one point compared to 2019.

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It was more than a year of struggles until a pent-up demand for travel exploded earlier this summer and incrementally began filling up planes again.

But at least one carrier took advantage of that downturn and the downtime to address one pressing issue.

In a story reported by ABC News, Alaska Airlines used some of that time to bolster its carbon footprint by eliminating plastic onboard.

Instead of plastic water bottles and food containers, the airline has begun introducing alternatives which, it says, creates a domino effect. It not only helps the environment, but ABC News noted it can take up to 400 years for plastics to decompose – but the alternatives being used by Alaska Airlines weigh less, meaning planes burn less fuel, reduce carbon output and save money.

“The biggest issue we were having was single-use plastic,” Alaska Airlines manager of guest products Todd Traynor-Corey told ABC News. “Even if you have the best recycling program possible, a percentage of that plastic is going to end up in the landfills and even into the ocean. Being based on the West Coast, ocean life and sustainability are really important to us.”

To that end, Alaska Airlines elicited the help of Boxed Water, a company that serves water in containers more similar to milk cartons. The move, the airline said, eliminated water bottles and plastic cups – so much so that it could fill 18 Boeing 737 jets with the amount of plastic it got rid of.

It’s just part of the industry’s overall effort to go carbon neutral by the middle of this century. In fact, last week United Airlines became the first carrier to ever make a commercial flight with passengers using sustainable aviation fuel.

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