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Qantas going greener: say goodbye to paper passes

Christian Fleetwood

Qantas Group will slash waste to landfill in major environmental push to become the first airline to reuse, recycle and compost three-quarters of its general waste.

The company – consisting of Qantas, Jetstar and QantasLink – has announced it will say goodbye to paper tickets, removing them from its line-up entirely by the end of the year.

“We understand that being profitable is important, but we have to be more than that,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in the company’s half-year report for the 2019 financial year. “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.”

A big part of Qantas Group’s goal will involve going digital in a push to remove single-use items – like tickets and plastic FrequentFlyer cards – from the company’s line up.

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

As part of Qantas’ newly announced waste reduction program, the company has set a number of ambitious targets for its future globally.

Among them, Qantas aims to reduce its annual waste to landfill by 75 per cent by the end of 2021. Within this target includes a 1.5 per cent average fuel efficiency improvement, carbon neutral international growth, a 20 per cent reduction in water consumption, a 30 per cent reduction in waste to landfill, and a 35 to 40 per cent reduction in electricity by 2020.

In its half-year report, Qantas International saw a drop in underlying profit, mostly because it had to cope with a fuel bill that rose by $219 million.

Qantas also aims to reduce its usage of single-use plastics by 100 million units per year by the end of 2020.

The company said it remains on track to achieve these goals by 2021, while Qantas aims to reduce its net emissions by 50 per cent by 2050.

Currently, Qantas, Jetstar and QantasLink combined generate 30,000 tonnes of waste annually, composed of 13,000 tonnes of landfill, 4,000 tonnes of recyclable material, 8,000 tonnes of qarantine waste, and 5,000 tonnes of liquid waste.

Some examples of changes to be implemented across Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar from later this year include:

  • Introducing coffee cups that can be recycled or composted.
  • Effectively eliminating single-use plastics by switching to alternative packaging.
  • Removing unnecessary paper, such as boarding passes and operational manuals, by going digital.
  • Increasing donation or composting of food.
  • Recycling of old uniforms.

Although the airline will be able to reduce their footprint across the board, there are certain forms of waste that the company may have more trouble reducing.

Airlines are legally required to permanently dispose of quarantined food from international flights and hazardous materials. With support from industry and regulators, Qantas Group believes it can ultimately reduce the volume of this regulated waste.

According to its own data, 22 per cent of Qantas’ waste comes from their aircraft maintenance, food preparation and head office, while 38 per cent comes from airport lounges and terminals. The remaining 40 per cent is generated from on board aircraft waste.

Sustainability will be the key theme at the Travel DAZE conference this year. Click here for more info.

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