How do airlines cut back on inflight SUPS?

HONG KONG, 5 April 2024: Have you ever wondered what airlines are doing to reduce single-use plastics handed out to passengers on flights? 

Cathay counts SUPs, saying it distributed 7.7 items per passenger per flight in 2019 and targets reducing SUP rubbish to 1.5 items by 2025.

That is just one of Cathay’s practical targets in its 2023 Sustainability Report released this week.

Introducing the report’s key highlights, the airline says it is taking important strides towards establishing itself as a sustainability leader. 

Chief Executive Officer Ronald Lam comments: “Sustainability is inherent in Cathay’s purpose — to move people forward in life. We understand that achieving this purpose sustainably and responsibly for current and future generations requires collective efforts… We aim to lead by example and reach new heights in building a more sustainable future.

“As a pioneer of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), we continue to lead the charge in accelerating collaboration and deployment of SAF within Asia. We are also dedicated to transitioning towards circular solutions by setting a clear roadmap for reducing single-use plastics (SUP) and waste. Meanwhile, in line with our longstanding commitment to positively contributing to Hong Kong society, we are proud to engage in many community initiatives with our primary focus on youth development.”

Highlights from the 2023 report

Committing to near-term climate improvements: Building upon its commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Cathay set a new near-term target to improve its carbon intensity by 12% from the 2019 level by 2030. Cathay’s focus remains on accelerating SAF use, modernising its fleet and driving operational improvements to achieve this goal.

Accelerating SAF: SAF remains the most important lever for achieving Cathay’s new carbon intensity target and net-zero operations in the long run. In addition to driving further development of the SAF supply chain in the region and conducting its first overseas SAF uplift on commercial flights, Cathay has expanded its Corporate SAF Programme by establishing partnerships with new corporate clients and a non-governmental organisation.

A more sustainable use of resources: Cathay Pacific sets a new target to decrease passenger-facing single-use plastic products (SUPS) from an average of 7.7 items per passenger in 2019 to 1.5 pieces by 2025. Additionally, Cathay Pacific aims to reduce cabin waste by 30% from the 2019 baseline by 2030. 

These will be achieved by incorporating circular economy principles into its product and service design, selecting more sustainable or recycled materials upstream, and channelling used items back for recycling or repurposing.

Revitalising the Hong Kong community: Cathay successfully rejuvenated the Cathay Volunteer Team and engaged in various youth-centric programmes aligned with the Hong Kong SAR Government’s Strive and Rise Programme, including the popular Cathay Community Flight and Aviation Exploration Days.

Full details of Cathay’s performance and commitments to sustainable development are available in its 2023 Sustainability Report, available here.

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