Delta Air Lines announced on Tuesday it had made more moves to reduce onboard single-use plastic consumption while supporting minority- and women-owned businesses. The airline says its new measures will remove close to five million pounds of plastic waste per year while creating jobs in vulnerable areas.
ESG in action
Due to its reliance on energy-dense fossil-based jet fuel, aviation is one of the most challenging industries to decarbonize. However, that does not mean that there are no aspects of flying that could be made more environmentally friendly even today, while we are waiting for the big-whammy technologies such as hydrogen-electric aircraft.
Starting this month, Delta is bringing in new eco-conscious bedding, cutlery, and amenity kits. However, the new effort of making more conscious choices does not extend only to more environmentally friendly products. In keeping with the company’s commitment to social responsibility, Delta’s new line of onboard items will be sourced from minority- and women-run businesses.
“Decisions we make on every aspect of our product are opportunities to make good on two core promises: to deliver exceptional customer experiences and build a better future for people and our planet. These latest additions deliver something unique to our customers, reduce our environmental impact and enable job creation for the communities we serve around the world,” said Allison Ausband, Executive VP and Chief Customer Experience Officer.
Saving millions of pounds of plastic, creating jobs
Starting this month, in what it calls a ‘more sustainable and people-first future for air travel’, Delta is introducing artisan-made amenity kits, recycled bedding, reusable and biodegradable service ware, and premium canned wine. The airline says this move will reduce its onboard single-use plastic consumption by close to five million pounds per year. That is the equivalent of about 1,500 standard-sized cars.
For its Delta One cabin amenity kits, the carrier has collaborated with Mexican artisanal apparel brand Someone Somewhere. The production of the kits uses regenerated cotton and eliminates waste. Meanwhile, the new packaging eliminates five single-use plastic items. Furthermore, the collaboration has created 250 jobs in Mexico’s more vulnerable states.
The kits contain a Someone Somewhere sleeping mask, lip balm and hand cream from Grown Alchemist (packaging to transition to aluminum in April this year), and a Humble Co. toothbrush made from bamboo.
100% recycled polyester bedding
Since December, Delta has begun rolling out new bedding for its premium cabins. The new sets are made from over 100 recycled plastic bottles, which on its own will use 25 million plastic bottles per year. Given that 500 billion plastic bottles are being used each year in the US alone, it does not create a very large dent in overall plastic consumption, but a dent nonetheless. The new bedding will be wrapped in reusable packaging.
New line of beverages
Furthermore, Delta is introducing canned wine from Imagery Estate Winery, owned by Jamie Benziger, winner of Best Winemaker at the International Women’s Wine Competition in 2019. The Sonoma wines are also sustainably grown, certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
Delta says that it has deepened its relationship with suppliers in key markets over the past year, which allows it to offer locally sourced menu items and introduced a line of beverages that spotlights the first US Black-owned distillery, Du Nord Social Spirits.
Are sustainable onboard alternatives important to you? How could airlines do more for environmental and social responsibility overall? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.