Almost 2,000 plastic items were removed from the green flight © Getty Images
Almost 2,000 plastic items were removed from the green flight © Getty Images

Etihad tests plant-based bottles and bamboo toothbrushes

posted by Marino Donati
27 April 2021

Etihad Airways has focused on using sustainable suppliers for its first “eco-flight” of the year.

The national airline carrier of the United Arab Emirates sought suppliers to replace less sustainable items on the flight with locally-made products. Suppliers’ products were also lightweight, non-energy intensive in the cleaning process, or non-impactful in the disposal process.

The flight, from Abu Dhabi to Rome, was part of continuing research and testing under the Etihad Greenliner programme to assess environmental sustainability initiatives during scheduled services.

Suppliers included Al Ain Water, which provided plant-based water bottles, Abu Dhabi-based startup The Concept’s sustainable in-flight meal trays made from used water bottles, and up-cycled bamboo toothbrushes supplied by BambuuBrush.

It was the fourth such flight of the airline’s Greenliner aircraft as part of its mission toward carbon neutral flying.

Strict waste regulations force international airlines to incinerate all contaminated materials, and the airline identified suppliers offering products that will not release harmful emissions in incineration, such as EcoWare bagasse pots, which are compostable and made from plants. The flight produced and successfully diverted 8.1kg of recyclable material from landfill.

The flight also tested a range of flight and engine-optimisation initiatives, as well as onboard products to reduce weight and single-use plastics, with successful trials to be incorporated into regular scheduled operations.

Tony Douglas, group chief executive officer at Etihad Aviation Group, said it had made a significant commitment to sustainability and the future of aviation over a year ago, with the launch of its Greenliner programme, and its commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and halving net emission levels by 2035.

“Now in 2021 we are stepping up our efforts so eco testing won’t be confined to quarterly dedicated eco-flights, but instead an always on, ever present part of operations to test, refine and implement sustainability initiatives,” said Douglas. “This kind of incremental, real-world testing is the foundation of the Greenliner programme, which will allow us to continue R&D efforts into decarbonisation opportunities.

“This isn’t about solving only Etihad’s emissions, but about supporting the entire industry to address the biggest challenge we face over the next three decades.”

The Rome flight saw the removal and replacement of 1,731 single-use plastic items from onboard service, with a weight reduction of 108kg, saving 60kg of CO2 emissions.

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