Emirates marked The World Environment Day 2022 theme - Only One Earth, with initiatives both on board and on the ground that add up to making a big difference.
The airline’s environmental strategy focuses on three areas: reducing emissions, consuming responsibly, and preserving wildlife and habitats.
When it comes to inflight product and service development, an in-house team of sustainability experts give their input from the early stages. Following the waste management hierarchy, the team’s approach prioritizes waste prevention and then products are assessed if they can be re-used. If not, it’s re-cycled and the last option is its responsible disposal.
Under this direction, plastic straws and stirrers were replaced with responsibly sourced paper and wooden alternatives. A customer favourite, Emirates’ cosy sustainable blankets in Economy Class are made from 28 recycled plastic bottles each. By the end of this year, Emirates will have saved 150 million single-use plastic items from landfill from these initiatives.
Emirates’ new Economy Class amenity kits introduced this year were also put through sustainability reviews before they were launched on board. These reusable kits are made from washable kraft paper and contain durable travel essentials made from environmentally friendly materials. The packaging used for the dental kit, socks and eyeshades are made from 90 per cent rice paper. The toothbrush is made from a combination of wheat straw and plastic, and the socks and eyeshades are made from rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate).
For Emirates’ youngest customers, the airline’s complimentary toy bags, baby amenity kits and plush toys are also made from recycled plastic bottles. With the entire product life-cycle in mind, the swing tags for the bags, kits and toys are made from recycled cardboard and non-toxic soy-based inks were selected for the print
Emirates looks at every product on board with the view to reducing resource consumption wherever possible. It works with a wide range of suppliers, sourcing locally or regionally where feasible, to minimise the environmental impact of its supply chain. Suppliers are also evaluated against the airline’s standards of sustainable sourcing, which is the integration of social, ethical and environmental performance factors.
Economy Class paper menus were replaced in April 2020 with digital menus, which saves 44 tonnes of paper per month reducing paper consumption and also supports Emirates’ overall efforts to remove excess weight and to save fuel and emissions. Instead, passengers view the menu on their phone via the on board wifi.
Where possible, Emirates explores every opportunity to upcycle and recycle. Glass and plastic bottles are sorted on board before being sent to a recycling plant in Dubai. As a result, each month, Emirates and Emirates Flight Catering divert about 150,000 plastic bottles and 120 tonnes of glass away from landfills.
Reducing emissions: Emirates has an ongoing focus to operate its fleet in the most efficient, responsible way possible, cutting fuel consumption. In addition to its own operational efficiency efforts, its partnerships with air navigation service providers have also been key to implementing fuel‑ and time‑saving routes.
On the Ground: Amongst other initiatives, Emirates is investing in solar power systems to generate clean electricity at its major facilities in Dubai including the Emirates Engine Maintenance Centre, Emirates Flight Catering, and most recently, the Emirates Sevens Stadium. These installations produce savings of over 4 million kilogrammes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
In addition, Emirates will trial an electric bus for six months starting next week to ferry passengers from remote stations and can run up to 100km on a single charge. These are completely carbon free and operate on an intelligent energy saving system.
Preserving wildlife and habitats: Emirates has also continued its tradition of supporting biodiversity and conservation.
For over 20 years, Emirates has helped to support a sustainable and balanced ecosystem at the DDCR through an ongoing investment of over AED 28 million. Representing close to 5 per cent of Dubai’s total land area, the DDCR protects the incredible wildlife and vegetation within the vibrant UAE ecosystem.
Emirates also supports the protection of Australia’s wilderness and bush through the conservation-based resort Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, located in the World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains region.
As a major international aviation business, Emirates is also committed to combatting the illegal wildlife trade. It is a founding signatory of the 2016 Buckingham Palace Declaration, and member of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce. Emirates has zero tolerance on carrying banned species, hunting trophies or any products associated with illegal wildlife activities.