Today at its Sustainability Breakfast in Wellington the airline committed to replacing five single-use plastic products across domestic services, including water cups, café cups and lids, Koru Hour cheese plates and lids, as well as 9 types of plastic bags network-wide, with lower impact alternatives over the next 12 months.
Already this year the airline has removed single-use plastic straws, stir sticks, eye mask wrappers and plastic toothbrushes from lounges and on board aircraft. Over a 12 month period this will see the airline reduce its plastic footprint by 260,000 plastic toothbrushes, 3,000 straws, 7.1 million stirrers and 260,000 eye mask wrappers.
These changes are part of a wider programme aimed at reducing the airline's use of plastic, supported by the Ministry for the Environment, which has assisted the airline in identifying lower impact alternatives and aligning its end-of life solutions to New Zealand's existing facilities, recycling and composting capabilities.
Air New Zealand's Head of Sustainability Lisa Daniell says the airline's employees and its customers have been a real catalyst for this change.
"Plastics are top of mind for us and our customers. Several of our waste and plastic reduction initiatives have been brought about by our employees telling us we can do better in this area. We know these are small steps but given our scale, they do result in a significant amount of single-use plastic being avoided.
"If we were to line up all of the plastic stirrers we are replacing across our network, they would span the length of Cape Reinga to Taupo (around 700km).
"We are also working closely with our suppliers, who to date have been really supportive in helping us search for new ways to directly procure a number of inflight single-use plastic products, as has the Ministry for the Environment," says Ms Daniell.
Alternatives to single-use plastic products, including paper straws and wooden stirrers, are now available across all of Air New Zealand's lounges and aircraft on request.