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Delta Airlines Commences Removal Of Single-use Plastics Onboard

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Delta Air Lines is continuing the removal of a variety of single-use plastic items, including stir sticks, wrappers, utensils and straws from its aircraft and Delta Sky Clubs.

The ongoing effort comes on the heels of the global airline’s leading move to remove plastic wrap from international Main Cabin cutlery in April, and is expected to eliminate more than 300,000 pounds in plastic waste annually – that’s more than the weight of two Boeing 757 aircraft.

Other moves contributing to Delta’s long-time sustainability efforts include the elimination of unnecessary plastic wrapping from Delta One amenity kits, and reducing Styrofoam in the cafeterias at Delta’s Atlanta headquarters in favor of compostable and/or reusable alternatives.

Additionally, Delta has formed a Youth Advisory Council to help guide the airline’s efforts to minimise the use of single-use plastics and support other sustainability initiatives. Initial members include Georgia natives Carter and Olivia Ries, who founded One More Generation, and California resident Shelby O’Neil, who founded Jr Ocean Guardians. Carter, Olivia and Shelby have been instrumental over the past year in driving sustainability efforts on Delta’s campuses, including No-Straw November during which they spoke to employees about the importance of reducing single-use plastics.

Emma Kavanaugh, founder and president of a Surfrider Youth Club at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida would join the trio as an initial member, while a partnership with the Captain Planet Foundation would seek additional members through an application process launching in November that seeks diversity in geographic location and eco-passions.

The council would complement the airline’s employee-led GreenUp group that connects with Delta employees to find meaningful ways for the airline to positively impact the environment.

Commenting, Christine Boucher, managing director – Global Environment, Sustainability & Compliance said, “We’re looking broadly at how we can adjust our sourcing and behaviors to have greater impact on the local and global communities where we live, work and serve,” said Christine Boucher, managing director – Global Environment, Sustainability & Compliance.

“Reducing single-use plastics is a natural extension of the work we’ve been doing for years to lead the industry in efforts to reduce our impact on the environment, and we’re looking forward to working with young thought leaders like Carter, Emma, Olivia and Shelby to build an even more creative and impactful approach.”​   

Delta customers would already notice red plastic straws and stir sticks being replaced in Delta Sky Clubs with environmentally friendly bamboo drink stirrers and birch stir sticks, and customers onboard would see the elimination of red plastic straws and stir sticks in favor of the same alternatives starting in mid-2019.

Together, the changes would eliminate more than 183 million plastic straws and stir sticks from Delta’s aircraft and clubs. Compostable straws would be available in clubs for customers upon request.

Delta Sky Clubs have also started moving toward compostable alternatives for service ware. Delta has partnered with the airports in Seattle and Minneapolis since 2016 and 2017, respectively, to help manage those clubs’ compostable waste, and the airline is now identifying the best ways to expand composting at all 51 airports that feature its clubs.



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