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SYDNEY: February 21, 2019. The Qantas Group says it aims to become the world’s first airline to reuse, recycle and compost at least 75 percent of its general waste by the end of 2021.

Announcing the plan as part of the airline’s half-year results that saw a pre-tax profit of A$780 million, CEO Alan Joyce said that business had a responsibility to lead on environmental issues.

Qantas waste reduction“In the process of carrying 50 million people each year, we deal with more than 30,000 tonnes of waste. That’s the same weight as about eighty 747 jumbos,” said Joyce.

“We’ve already removed plastic wrapping on our pyjamas and headsets, as well as plastic straws. Even plastic Frequent Flyer cards are going digital. It adds up to millions of items a year because of our scale and there’s a lot more we can do.”

Changes to be made by Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar later this year include coffee cups that can be recycled or composted; eliminating single-use plastics by switching to alternative packaging; using digital boarding passes and operational manuals; increasing the donation or composting of food; and recycling of old uniforms.

The three airlines aim to remove 100 million single-use plastic items including 45 million plastic cups, 30 million cutlery sets, 21 million coffee cups and four million headrest covers with sustainable alternatives by the end of 2020. The move “goes well beyond the recent European Union ban, both in scope and speed of implementation”.

The existing target to reduce waste to landfill by 30 percent by 2020 is now replaced by the new goal. Separate targets exist for fuel, water and electricity consumption, and Qantas claims to employ the largest carbon offset scheme of any airline in the world.

“Few industries can eradicate waste completely, but with this programme we’re saying that avoidable waste should no longer be an acceptable by-product of how we do business,” Joyce continued. “This isn’t just the right thing to do, it is good for business and will put us ahead of legislative requirements in the various countries we operate in, where there is an end-date on various single use plastics. We’ll be asking for help from our people, customers, suppliers and regulators to help us reach this goal,” he added.