Qantas passengers in the first "zero waste" world flight


Mini portions of Vegemite were out and compostable cutlery starch were on what Qantas claims to be the world's first zero waste commercial flight.

Passengers flying from Sydney to Adelaide on Wednesday sipped water bottles destined for an Adelaide recycling plant and ate meals with sugarcane containers while the Australian carrier experienced an initiative that says it will cut 100 million disposable plastics by the end of next year and eliminate 75% of the airline's waste by the end of 2021.

About 1,000 disposable plastic items have been replaced with sustainable alternatives or, in the case of individual Vegemite portions, removed altogether while the Qantas group has committed to reducing an annual waste mountain equivalent to 80 fully loaded Boeing 747 jumbo,

All in-flight products used on the NSW to SA two-hour flight have been separated and will be composted, reused or recycled.

The boss of Qantas, Andrew David, said, with the cost of the landfill rising and wasted on board the number 1 concern raised by passengers, there was a strong commercial cause for the initiative.

While there will be an initial outlay, David said the move will ultimately save money by cutting the cost of waste disposal and will not push airfares higher.

"We want to offer customers the same level of service they currently enjoy, but without the amount of waste that comes with it," said David.

"This flight is about testing our products, refining the disposal process and getting feedback from our customers."

Qantas Fact Sheet


The only flight from Sydney to Adelaide would normally generate 34 kg of waste per flight and 150 tonnes per year.

But the food containers experimented on Wednesday were made with the sugar cane pulp left by the refineries, while the compostable coffee cups were made from plastic made of vegetable matter rather than oil.

Qantas and Jetstar intend to replace 45 million plastic cups, 30 million cutlery, 21 million cups of coffee and four million headrest covers with sustainable alternatives.

Food waste from international flights cannot be composted due to legal requirements, but Qantas said it will work with suppliers and the government to reduce the volume of this waste.

Qantas Fact Sheet


The federal government says the aviation contributes about three percent of Australia's carbon emissions.

Qantas customers are already contributing to the largest carbon compensation plan in the aviation industry and this year the carrier will begin to incentivize travelers to participate in the program by offering frequent flyer points for every dollar spent.

Last year, Qantas operated the first flight with biofuels between Australia and the United States using biofuel made from mustard seeds.


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