The Global News Source for the World of Science
29 May 2018Lab Chat
From harming wildlife to packing out landfills, plastic waste is a fast-increasing problem around the world. And, whether it’s governments, businesses or even individual consumers swapping products they buy, it’s up to everyone to fix it. While some may duck and dodge their responsibility, Emirates airlines are looking for innovative ways to play their part. Read on as we look at how they’re utilising plastic waste on their long-haul flights.
Anyone who’s flown long haul will be familiar with the usual blanket and pillow given to keep you comfortable. It’s not usually something you put much thought into. On Emirates, however, that blanket is made completely from recycled plastic bottles – using ecoTHREAD technology.
Plastic bottles are turned into plastic chips, which is turned into yarn and woven into soft, durable blankets. The recycled blankets were originally introduced on Economy class for the Dubai-based airline. After a successful trial, they are now being given to passengers in all three classes on flights over six hours – Economy, Business and First Class.
For every complimentary blanket, the airline will effectively remove 28 plastic bottles from landfills, the ocean or wherever else they may end up. Based on the number of flights and blankets used on them, this will amount to 88 million plastic bottles – or 12,316 tonnes – kept out of landfills by the end of 2019.
According to Emirates, this is equal to the weight of 44 A380 planes. Even better, the blankets can be used for around three months. After this period, the airline removes them from circulation and will use them for charitable purposes.
This initiative to reduce plastic comes at the ideal time not only for Dubai, but the world more broadly. To date, over 8 billion tonnes of plastic has been created. Since coming into the world, none of this has left since it takes up to a thousand years to decompose.
Just 9% of plastic has been recycled, with 12% incinerated – causing harmful emissions like nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic chemicals. That leaves nearly 80% of plastic in the natural environment. A lot of it ends up in landfills, where it stays for hundreds of years. Large amounts also make their way into the oceans, with 10 million tonnes entering the water each year. Whether it’s plastic bags, bottles or microplastics, these items have a serious negative impact on marine wildlife. Needless to say, Emirates’ effort to reduce this is exactly what the world needs more of.Download PDF