Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

British Airways to remove most single-use plastics from its aircraft during 2020

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

British Airways made a major announcement yesterday on the removal of single use plastics from its aircraft.

The airline has committed to trying to remove 700 tonnes annually of single-use plastics from its aircraft by the end of 2020.

To put this into context, we are talking about more than 250,000,000 individual items of plastic.

The airline has already removed 25 million items of single use plastics from its fleet, but this new commitment is a substantial step up.

Here are some of the changes that are coming or already in place:

  • Swapped plastic stirrers with bamboo alternatives
  • Reduced plastic packaging on Club World amenity kits
  • Swapped plastic wrapping for all bedding and blankets for paper wrapping (currently being rolled out across all cabins)
  • Removed plastic wrapping on headsets and instead placed these inside paper charity envelopes in World Traveller cabins
  • Water bottles on board are made from 50% recycled plastic
  • Removed inflight retail plastic bags

The target also includes finding alternatives to single-use plastic cutlery, tumblers, cups, toothpicks and butter packaging on board.  The airline described the process of making these changes as complex, as the alternatives must be credibly sustainable, offer the same hygiene levels as their plastic counterparts and do not outweigh the items they replace.

Here is a suitcase made from recycled plastics that BA commissioned to mark the announcement!:

Sustainability is, of course, increasingly important.

On Tuesday I spoke at a conference of senior Virgin Atlantic managers, and one of the areas I touched on was sustainable amenity kits.  Is it about time, for example, that passengers were given empty amenity kit bags and allowed to take only the items they actually want from a trolley that passes through the plane?

It also came up last October when I spoke at a Flybe staff event.  I was on stage discussing loyalty with Flybe’s loyalty head, and one of the questions from the floor was about whether the planned scheme should be abandoned because it can, indirectly, lead to additional flying.  The genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

Sustainability isn’t easy, however, and airline passengers are unlikely to fully understand what is involved.  This is especially true with rules over waste and customs, which determine whether – for example – bottles of wine must be poured down the sink before landing or whether waste can be unloaded locally.

Even the logic of sustainability can be confusing.  You might think, for example, that recycling paper is good.  However, paper recycling is very energy intensive and, in the UK, much of our electricity is from gas fired power stations.  If you throw your newspaper in the bin, the new paper which needs to be produced is made in Scandinavia, using trees from sustainable forests and using clean electricity which is generated from hydro electric dams.  Which route is better?  (See the comments below for discussion on the methane caused by decomposing paper, however.)

British Airways is doing what it can, of course, and the airline is also in the middle of extensive fleet changes which will dramatically improve the average fuel burn of its aircraft.  These new initiatives are an important part of that process.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Comments (98)

  • RussellH says:

    OT: Adverts on this site.

    Two days ago I needed to buy a small network bridge. I checked all the shops that a search provided, not wanting to use Amazon if at all possible. One of firms suggested was Farnell – whose site said that the one I was looking for was no longer available, although they still quoted a price. Since then my version of HfP is flooded with adverts for this particular switch from the one firm that says it cannot supply it, but offers a price well in excess of what everyone else wanted! I have my adblocker turned off for HfP – but maybe for not much longer!

    • Charlieface says:

      Clear cookies for Google or whoever else HfP uses

      • RussellH says:

        There is supposed to be a google blocker – but yes, it does not seem to be working properly!

        • RussellH says:

          And clearing all the google cookies does not work either.

          • Lady London says:

            PS CCleaner is still good for hoovering up stuff after you’ve done your cookies.

        • Lady London says:

          I suspect @RussellH that the rest of your efforts at blocking things are so successful, when an ad finally does get through to you on HfP then everybody else that buys advertising space in the Google world has only that same ad to run and re-run on your screen!

          That’s what happens to me anyway. If I click on any ad, anytime (and I don’t see many as i use Adblockplus which is excellent and DuckDuckGo browser as recommended by other posters here if i get really fed up) so i don’t see many ads at all.

          If I get really fed up with seeing a particular ad that has “trapped” me like this and is following me around across sites, usually on Google if you hover over the ad in the top right hand corner you can click x to close it. sometimes it asks you why. But that particular ad won’t reappear.

    • Nic says:

      That’s not really HfP’s fault. There is a vast industry of ad bidding, brokerage and individual user tracking to increase the value of the ad network selling the space. HfP and other sites just include a bit of code that displays a selection of ads from their chosen network.

      You’ll find the same ads follow you around anywhere you go that you allow them.

      You should be blocking fingerprinting, cookies, browser data storage and ad network scripts everywhere else; especially on Google or Amazon product searches. Then they will have more trouble tracking your searches and the ads that will be shownvia the networks, where you allow them, will be less targeted.

      uBlock Origin and Decentraleyes for scripts, Firefox multi account containers to segragate your different visits to different areas of the web, use Firefox’s various settings to automatically resist fingerprinting, block third party cookies, empty your browsing data regularly and you will enjoy utterly random adverts here.

      I’ve seen anti pain socks, some off-brand telecoms company selling cheap sims and a smiling twat in an ice-cream whip haircut offering some coy financial service.

      • Russ 😷 says:

        I get the Virgin all gay cruises. Nothing quite like passing your lap top over to a client showing three oiled men in tight trunks having a fun time!

        • Lady London says:

          I get ladies from Russia and late night “chat” services sometimes. I am completely not the customer for those. No idea in the world how I get them… except they cannot possibly be targeted.

          Google’s Ad Blocker is not an ad blocker. If you block ads with Google all it does is randomize (i.e. non-target) what you are actually shown. According to the small print, at least. So you always need to do the things suggested by the poster above until your blocking reaches an efficiency you are happy with..

  • Will says:

    2 environmental issues need separating:
    1. Plastic pollution
    2. Emissions pollution (be it CO2 or fine particulates)

    Plastic use and mandatory incineration where it is not recycled may be the best way to deal with plastic. Even if it’s not the best in the long run it might be the only achievable solution in the short term.

    If we burned all of our plastics then what % of emissions would be attributable to that burning? If it’s inconsiderable you can knock out problem 1 quickly then focus all energy on problem 2.