easyJet, Europe's leading airline, has announced today that it is introducing a new uniform for cabin crew and pilots, each made from around 45 recycled plastic bottles as part of its commitment to mitigate waste and search for innovative change beyond carbon reduction. Manufactured by Northern-Ireland based Tailored Image and created with unique high-tech material, the new uniform will be introduced into cabin crew circulation this month. The roll-out across the airline is estimated to prevent around half a million plastic bottles from ending up as plastic waste each year.
Not only does the fabric reduce plastic waste, but the high-tech material is made using renewable energy sources and has a 75% lower carbon footprint than traditional polyester.
The new fabric, adapted to the airline's current style, was first trialled last year for suitability in the cabin and flight deck environments. Compared to the non-recycled alternative, it is more abrasion-resistant. It also provides even more elasticity, a four-way stretch, improving fit and freedom of movement for enhanced comfort and durability. This development can lead to it being long-lasting for the wearer, reducing the need for more uniform items to be produced in the long term.
Beyond the new fabric, plastic has also been replaced in all clothing-related packaging in favour of recyclable and biodegradable materials: replacing plastic collar strays with recyclable cardboard ones, plastic shirt clips with metal shirt clips, non-recyclable white coated card with recyclable cardboard card and polypropylene outer shirt covers with biodegradable shirt covers.
easyJet has already taken steps to reduce plastic onboard as it continues to reduce the number of single-use plastic items used on its flights. The airline has already replaced many items with more sustainable alternatives, such as introducing a small plant-based bowl as a teabag holder, removing over 27 million individual items of plastic from our inflight retail operation in Financial Year 2020, and has never offered plastic straws. It also offers a 50p discount on hot drinks for customers who bring their reusable cup.
Tina Milton, Director of Cabin Services at easyJet, said:
"Climate change is an issue for all of us, and at easyJet, we are looking at all parts of our operation to see where we can reduce carbon emissions and reduce waste.
"We are excited to be debuting this new pilot and cabin crew uniform made from recycled plastic bottles and to introduce it for our pilots and cabin crew colleagues. We know that sustainability is an important issue for them and also for our customers.
"It is a priority for us to continue work on reducing our carbon footprint in the short term, coupled with long-term work to support the development of new technology, including zero-emission planes which aspire to reduce the carbon footprint of aviation radically. We continue to work with innovative technology partners Wright Electric and Airbus. Each of them has set out its ambitious timetables for bringing zero-emission aircraft into commercial service to become a reality.
"People have a choice in how they travel, and if people choose to fly with us, we want to be one of the best choices they can make."
Bernard Birt, Managing Director of Tailored Image, said:
"Our role as a bespoke uniform and corporate wear provider is to deliver innovative solutions for our clients, built around comfort and practicality for their wearers. The additional challenge with the easyJet project was to meet their exceptionally high standards in reducing environmental impact.
“By combining the expertise of our design and garment technology teams, we developed a collaborative approach with a mill that is leading the way in the development of sustainable fabrics.
“We were excited from the outset to be involved in this project and are delighted that the success of the new EasyJet wardrobe demonstrates the result of our award-winning customer-focused approach and our ability to meet even the most exacting briefs."
From its first flight over 25 years ago, easyJet has been focused on being as carbon efficient as possible to reduce carbon emissions; transitioning its fleet to increasingly more modern, fuel and therefore carbon-efficient planes; flying them in ways that avoid noise and unnecessary use of energy; whilst still flying aircraft full of passengers.
Since 2000 easyJet has reduced the carbon emissions for each kilometre flown by a passenger by over a third. Initiatives have included introducing lightweight carpets, trolleys and seats, single-engine taxiing and removing paper manuals from aircraft.
In 2019, easyJet became the world's first major airline to operate carbon neutral flights across its whole network by offsetting the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of its flights through schemes accredited by two of the highest verification standards, Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard.
Carbon offsetting is only an interim measure. New technologies are still being developed, so the airline will continue to support innovative technology, including developing hybrid and electric/hydrogen planes, working with others across the industry to reinvent and de-carbonise aviation over the long term. The aim will be for easyJet to reduce the amount of carbon offsetting undertaken as new technologies emerge.