Just because you’re burning up thousands of gallons of gas to fly through the sky doesn’t mean you can’t do your part. Delta told the Star Tribune on Wednesday it will get rid of single-use plastic straws, and coffee stirrers from its flights and SkyClub lounges. In their place, the airline will use bamboo and birchwood utensils.
Delta is also scrapping the plastic wrap it uses on amenity kits in Delta One and first class cabins. And it will replace styrofoam cups and plastic silverware in SkyClubs with biodegradable alternatives – something it started at its Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) SkyClub way back in 2015.
By making the switch to greener alternatives, Delta expects to prevent 300,000 pounds of plastic waste each year. That’s a lot of straws – and it will cost the airline money to save it.
“Our investment is worth it,” said Christine Boucher, the airline’s managing director of sustainability and compliance. Companies across the world are moving this way in an effort to cut down on their contributions to landfills. And that includes airlines, many of whom beat Delta to the punch.
Alaska Airlines was the first U.S. airline to ditch plastics in May. American Airlines followed suit in July. And then United joined the pack with a ban last month.
But Boucher insisted Delta isn’t simply playing follow the leader, as major airlines did over the summer and fall by raising checked bag fees from $25 to $30. Delta stopped using plastic-wrapped utensils for international flights in April.
“It's really not a reaction,” Boucher said. “We have been working on this single-use plastics reduction for close to two years now.”
Airlines deserve some credit for following the trend of ditching plastics in favor of environmentally-friendly replacements. Let’s just hope Delta and their competitors don’t stick consumers with the tab for the switch.
Lead photo courtesy of Chris Lundberg via Flickr.