Sustainability in the world of airlines – part 2


We continue our dive into the work that airlines are doing to promote a sustainable future as they face increasing environmental pressure.


In this part of our sustainability series, we look at United Airlines, the first U.S. airline to commit to reducing their individual greenhouse gas emissions – 50 percent by 2050.


Here are some of the initiatives they are putting in place for a more sustainable future.


  1. #Sheddthestraw: You may think that foregoing a single plastic straw won't effect change, but small actions can lead to big changes. That's why United Airlines is eliminating non-recyclable plastic stirring sticks and cocktail picks on their aircraft, and replacing them with an environmentally-friendly alternative made out of bamboo.

  2. Clean energy: United Airlines support organisations that are dedicated to developing clean energy technologies for the aviation industry, such as co-sponsorship of the Clean Energy Trust and co-hosting a workshop to connect biofuel producers and potential investors.

  3. Recycling: Last year, they recycled over 1.7 million pounds of plastic cups and aluminium cans from their flights – and 10 times more recyclables on the ground. You can help by keeping cans and cups separate when flight attendants collect the trash.

  4. Biofuel: United Airlines operated the longest transatlantic biofuel flight. They also became the first U.S. airline to publicly commit to reducing their greenhouse emissions – 50% by 2050, and celebrated by operating the longest transatlantic biofuel flight to date on September 14, 2018, from San Francisco to Zurich. Watch the video.

  5. Pioneers! United Airlines have long been a pioneer in adopting new aircraft designs, including being one of the launch customers for the 787-10. They currently have over 200 aircraft on order and invest $2 billion per year in new aircraft. These have helped improve fuel efficiency by 47% since 1990.

  6. LAX biofuel: Since 2016, United Airlines have bought 3 million gallons of biofuel for flights from our LAX Hub. Going forward, they plan to buy nearly 1 billion gallons of biofuel to reduce their carbon footprint. Watch their video to find out more.

  7. Clean the World: United Airlines turn their unused/ partially used amenity kits donations rather than trash. They also help those in need and keep over 50,000 pounds of materials out of landfills each year.

  8. Animal Conservation: United Airlines has been a long-time partner of Conservation International and continues to support enforcement agencies in combating the illegal wildlife trade.

If you’d like to know more about how United Airlines are doing their bit for the planet, check out more their Eco-Skies website.