Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly has launched the first of four trial flights without any single-use plastic products served on-board. Starting with a flight from Lisbon, Portugal to Natal, Brazil, Hi Fly aims to be the first plastic-free airline by the end of 2019.
During Hi Fly’s trial flights, 700 passengers will eat with bamboo cutlery, using paper and compostable containers. If they’re feeling ill, the vomit bags will be eco-friendly too.
The company claims to be the first to offer zero-plastic commercial flights. However, Twitter users remembered when air travel included silverware, cloth napkins, and ceramic plates.
It’s been decades since travellers were offered those reusable items; plastic cutlery was popularized following 9/11, the Daily Mail reports. And airplane food and cutlery have become notorious for being wrapped in large amounts of plastic, with little being recycled afterwards.
In a statement, Hi Fly president Paulo Mirpuri said the flight trials will help determine the effectiveness of plastic alternatives and the company expects “teething problems” in the early stages.
Waste from above, pollution in the oceans
Single-use packaging makes up 40 per cent of plastic produced globally. Around 800 million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into oceans every year, which the Guardian has compared to a garbage truck unloading into the sea once per minute. With this rate expected to increase, it’s expected that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.
Flyers produced 5.7 million tonnes of waste last year, Montreal-based airline industry group International Air Transport Association (IATA) told Australian Broadcasting News. That annual amount weighs nearly as much as the Great Pyramid of Giza.
As pressure to curb pollution grows, more airlines are turning away from disposable plastic.
Air New Zealand has already stopped serving several plastic items and has plans to gradually phase out plastic. Irish airline Ryanair has vowed to go plastic-free during flights and in its offices by 2023.
Alaska Airlines became the first US airline to ditch plastic straws in May. Other US airlines, such as Delta and American Airlines, have done the same.