Through this effort, the Seattle-based airline is asking its passengers to bring an empty reusable plastic or aluminum water bottle with them to their airport. The bottle can then be filled after going through a TSA check point and can be enjoyed throughout the flight.
If 10 percent of passengers participate in the initiative, more than 700,000 plastic water bottles and 4 million plastic cups could be diverted from landfills, according to Vice President of External Relations Diana Birkett Rakow.
“We’re passionate about working with our guests, employees, airports, and partners to reduce waste, protect habitats, and improve water health,” Birkett Rakow said. “Land, water, and animals are incredibly special parts of the places we live and fly — and it takes many different company and individual actions together to protect them for the long term.”
Alaska set its sights on plastic bottles due to the prevalence of the plastic waste on beaches worldwide. In a release, the airline cited Ellen MacArthur Foundation research which projects the planet’s oceans could contain one metric ton of plastic per every three metric tons of fish by 2025.
Partnerships on the project include environmental organizations Lonely Whale, MiiR, and Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), the latter of which will facilitate the planting of one tree for every passenger who brings his own water bottle and posts a photo to social media tagging @alaskaair with the hashtag #fillbeforeyoufly.
“The rivers and streams that fuel the West Coast are polluted, but planting trees in the right places can help reduce pollution and restore a healthy habitat,” BEF Chief Development Officer Val Fishman said in a statement. “Alaska Airlines is setting an industry standard with their commitment to supporting water quality programs. They are serving an important role driving awareness about widespread water issues among customers, while also helping to put actual trees in the ground to ensure the cool, clean water needed for habitats to thrive.”
Alaska also has found a partner in Port of Seattle for using sustainable practices in new construction and daily operations including water fountains with bottle filling stations.
“Programs like this one make it easier for passengers, employees, and businesses to lessen their environmental impact at our airport,” Port of Seattle Comissioner Peter Steinbrueck said in a statement. “Passengers and businesses at the airport help Sea-Tac Airport keep 41 percent of its terminal waste from landfills by sorting into recycling or compost bins. Our goal is to keep 60 percent of terminal waste from landfills.”
Since Alaska began tracking its recycling progress, the airline estimates flight attendants have collected more than 15,000 tons — or the weight of 320 Boeing 737-900ers. This is just one of the airline’s efforts to fly greener. Other game-changers include the removal of plastic straws and the switch from glass to aluminum for beer, the latter of which is easier to recycle.
“We know this is a resource intensive business with many stakeholders involved in the journey,” Birkett Rakow said. “While we’ve made progress, there’s a long road ahead of us. We’re working with supply chain partners and employees to come up with solutions to reduce waste, adopt sustainable practices and eliminate single-use plastics inflight. Change takes time; we value the collective impact our customers and employees can make today.”