Delta Air Lines is attempting to improve its sustainability credentials with a slew of visible onboard product updates aimed at reducing the amount of single-use plastic the airline uses each year, as well as ramping up recycling efforts and promoting partnerships with small, locally owned suppliers.
While the steps are helpful, they are minor in comparison to major issues such as the urgent need to generate readily available and reliable sustainable aviation fuel. While Delta may be accused of ‘greenwashing,’ Allison Ausband, Delta’s executive vice president and chief customer experience officer, says the airline is looking for ways to expedite its sustainability goals.
“Decisions we make on every aspect of our product are opportunities to make good on two core promises: to deliver exceptional customer experiences and build a better future for people and our planet,” Ausband commented on Tuesday.
“These latest additions deliver something unique to our customers, reduce our environmental impact and enable job creation for the communities we serve around the world.”
Delta has been rolling out recycled plastic bottle blankets for Delta One customers for a few months now, but the airline is especially proud of its new amenity packages, which are manufactured by Mexican fashion business Someone Somewhere.
The collaboration between Delta and the clothing company has resulted in the creation of 250 employment, while the sustainably designed amenity pack eliminates five single-use plastic products, saving up to 900 pounds of waste yearly.
Plastic toothbrushes have been replaced with bamboo toothbrushes, and pens are now made of cardboard. Products like lip balm and hand lotion will be packaged in aluminium by Grown Alchemist.
Bamboo is also the preferred material for Delta’s new Main Cabin service ware. The entire rollout isn’t scheduled until later this year, but after the bamboo cutlery replaces the old plastic knives and forks, the Atlanta-based airline aims to save up to 4.3 million pounds of plastic waste every year.
These new initiatives are high-profile, low-hanging fruit, and Delta will need to do a lot more to meet its goal of being the world’s first carbon-neutral airline. Delta pledged $1 billion to investments over the next ten years just before the epidemic to meet that aim.
Despite the pandemic’s devastating effects, Delta indicated late last year that it will continue to work on the project.