As part of its ongoing “green makeover”, Europe’s biggest airline Ryanair has announced that it plans to become plastic free by the year 2023. Ryanair has pledged to introduce a voluntary carbon offset payment for its customers when booking flights. Alongside this, the airline says it will aim to eliminate all non-recyclable plastics from its flights within five years. On flights this would mean switching from the usual plastic to biodegradable cups, paper packaging and wooden cutlery. Ryanair has also said it will make all its offices and operations free from plastic.
Environmental campaigners have welcomed the news that Ryanair is taking action to try and combat climate change. The airline serves an estimated 129 million customers every single year. By making these changes to its policies, it’s hoped that millions of tons of plastic waste will be avoided. It also comes at a time where governments and businesses are all stepping up to try and combat the concerns over waste and carbon emissions.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, has famously denied that climate change is driven by carbon emissions or aviation which has angered environmentalists. This new push for greener operations has now been agreed as part of the new “customer experience improvement programme”, of which environmental issues will form the centrepiece.
Chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said Ryanair’s environmental plan “includes our commitment to eliminate all nonrecyclable plastics from our operations over the next five years”. He added “It’s not just inflight food and drink. We’re looking at the plastic parts within the aircraft and what’s nonrecylable and how do we work with the original equipment manufacturers to move to more recyclable plastics within the aircraft and the operation.”
“For customers on board, this will mean initiatives such as a switch to wooden cutlery, bio-degradable coffee cups, and the removal of plastics from our range of in-flight products. We will also introduce a scheme to allow customers to offset the carbon cost of their flight through a voluntary climate charity donation online.”
However, he noted that “There will always be some kind of plastics … How far we get in terms of the 100% removal of nonrecyclable plastics we will see over the coming five years.” He also commented that Ryanair is already one of the most environmentally friendly airlines in the world in terms of emissions and fuel efficiency, and that 96% of its seats were filled across all its flights. A quote from Ryanair’s website claims that “Among the 20 largest airlines by passenger volume, the cleanest, Ryanair, uses barely more than a third the fuel to transport its average passenger one mile compared to the least efficient, American Eagle.”