The impact of single-use plastics on the environment is extremely detrimental. Due to these tiny pieces of scrap that take years to decompose, the world is facing huge environmental damage. This can no longer be ignored and there must be immediate action on the single-use plastics. Keeping this in mind, the Portuguese aircraft company Hi Fly has inaugurated the first plastic-free flight in the world.
Right after Christmas 2018, this plastic-free aeroplane took it’s first flight into the skies.
Hi Fly’s Plastic-Free Flight
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The world’s first single-use ‘plastic-free’ flight on december 26th from Lisbon to Natal, Brazil, was followed by three further 100% single-use ‘plastic-free’ test flights, in addition to a series of 12 reduced plastic journeys between Lisbon and Oporto to Fortaleza, Recife, Maceió and Salvador. The total weight of plastic saved across the whole trial between Portugal and Brazil of 16 flights – 4400 passengers – was 1500 kg. @mirpurifoundation #hifly #hiflyairline #mirpurifoundation #togetherforabetterworld #turnthetideonplastic #firstsingleuseplasticfreeflightintheworld
Hi Fly, a Portuguese aircraft company that is based in Portugal and Malta, took baby steps towards the eradication of single-use plastics. The Airbus A340 that flew from Lisbon to Portugal replaced all the plastics cutlery and containers. Instead, it made use of bamboo and other compostable alternatives that are made from recycled materials. The first among the three upcoming flights, A340 carried as many as 700 travellers in March 2019.
According to Hi Fly president, Paulo Mirpuri, the number of flights that take off each day can be as many as 100,000. At this high rate of flights taking off, there are more than 4 billion people who would travel by aeroplanes. If we take that into consideration, there are more than 4 billion single-use plastic items that are disposed of in the world in a single day! This number can increase at an alarming rate in the coming years.
Paulo Mirpuri further stated that they are looking forward to adopting a plastic-free policy on all their flights by the end of 2019. Consequently, the airline is expected to replace single-use plastic items like spoons, cups, salt and pepper shakers, packaging for bedding, sick bags, individual butter pots, dishes, toothbrushes, and soft drink bottles with bamboo cutlery, paper containers and packaging that can be composted.
Hi Fly’s Tests Plastic-Free Flights
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We couldn’t be prouder of being the first airline to perform a completely Single Use Plastic Free Flight. The first step to our ultimate goal to turn all our flights completely Single Use Plastic Free by the end of 2019. . . #TTOP #turnthetideonplastic #plasticfree #sustainability #togetherforabetterworld #mirpurifoundation #hifly #hiflyairline #airbus #airbusa340 #a340 #9HSUN #altoastral #wedidit
The upcoming test flights are expected to prevent the use of more than 350 kgs of single-use plastics, and this is just a start. The passengers on their flight have given them positive feedback and said that this is the right thing to do for the airlines. Hi Fly is known for leasing wide-body Airbus flights to other carriers when they require extra capacity at times of need. The airlines cover 400 destinations and provide its aircraft for lease to more than 200 airlines throughout the world.
Other Airlines Wishing to go Plastic-Free
Taking this as an inspiration, Irish airlines Ryanair and cruise line Royal Caribbean have announced to go plastic-free. In 2018, Ryanair promised to go plastic free by 2023, announcing its elaborate five-year plan. It aims to become “the greenest airline” and is looking forward to eliminating single-use plastics completely, right from the head office to aircrafts. Commenting on the same, Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair airlines’s marketing officer said, “For customers on board, this will mean initiatives such as a switch to wooden cutlery, bio-degradable coffee cups, and the removal of plastics from our range of in-flight products.”
Ryanair’s rival easyJet is also looking forward to becoming eco-friendly. It has introduced its own hot drinks cups that are made from a plant-based lining. These cups are compostable and an excellent alternative to the traditional cups. Apart from this, it is also replacing the drink stirrers and spoons with wooden alternatives. Additionally, it is also offering a discount of 50 pounds on the hot drinks for customers who bring their own reusable cups.
New Zealand, USA, and Britain
Besides these airlines, Air New Zealand announced the removal of 3,000 straws, half a million eye mask bags, more than 7 million coffee stirrers, and half a million toothbrushes from their lounges and aircraft in October last year. This year, it is expected to remove another 14 plastic items that include plastic bags, cups, and lids.
Alaska Airlines has also taken a step towards curbing the plastic menace and has acted against the use of plastics. It has scrapped the use of plastic straws.
Further, Delta Airlines is also looking to phase out plastic straws. British Airways has also confirmed that it would put aside the use of plastics but did not announce any steps so far.
With more airlines joining the plastic-free movement, it is time that we all stay woke. Apart from airlines, all fliers should also take steps and reduce the use of single-use plastics. Awareness of the impact that plastic pollution has on the environment is essential right now. Many environmentalists and scientists believe that indiscriminate human activity has already resulted in the destruction of the environment. If we do not take adequate and immediate steps, the world will become uninhabitable.
What is your take on these initiatives? Apart from aviation, what other sectors do you think must implement such policies?