A Boeing 757 aircraft weighs 150,000 pounds, or about the equivalent of a dozen elephants.
Going forward, Delta Airlines plans to eliminate two planes’ worth of waste each year through its efforts to replace single-use plastic materials with sustainable alternatives.
The company will be phasing out plastic straws, utensils, wrapping, stirrers, and more, which together will total 300,000 pounds of plastic averted annually.
Delta is also expanding efforts to make all cups, bowls, plates, and more compostable.
Take Action: Take the Plastic Pledge: #UnplasticthePlanet
In mid-2019, passengers in Delta planes and airport lounges will have access to bamboo straws and birchwood stirrers and will encounter, overall, less plastic in their interactions with the brand.
More than 170 million plastic straws and 12 million stirrers will be avoided through this initiative on Delta flights.
"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," Christine Boucher, Delta’s managing director of global environment, sustainability, and compliance, said in a press release.
Delta is part of a growing movement of airlines and other businesses investing in alternatives to single-use plastic in response to growing public pressure to reduce plastic pollution.
And these are just the efforts underway in the private sector. Even more consequential are the moves being made by governments around the world. More than 60 countries have taken action to restrict plastic production and the European Union Parliament voted to ban single-use plastics by 2021.
Delta is working to make sure its efforts reverberate beyond their plane cabins and lounges.
The company is enlisting environmental youth advocates to start campaigns to raise awareness of plastic pollution, such as Shelby O’Neil, a girl scout who spurred Alaska Airlines to get rid of plastic straws and is working with her nonprofit Jr Ocean Guardians to engage young people on the issue.
The brand also has other sustainability initiatives, including programs to recycle employee uniforms and the option for guests to offset the carbon of their flights.
"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,” Boucher said.