Air India Express Becomes Latest To Scrap Single Use Plastics

Air India Express has become the latest airline to scrap single-use plastics. The initiative comes from Air India and will be implemented initially on its low-cost carrier, Air India Express.

Air India Express is banning single-use plastics from October 2, 2019. Photo: Franz via Wikimedia Commons.

 Live From A Lounge has reported this development from the Civil Aviation Ministry of India conference yesterday. A spokesman for Air India said in a statement provided to Simply Flying,

“Air India is going to ban single-use plastic from 2nd October. In the first phase, it will implement in all flights of Air India Express and Alliance Air flights. In the 2nd phase, it will be implemented in Air India flights.”

Changes will be seen from early October

Lunches and snacks provided on Air India Express which are currently sealed in plastic will be switched to butter paper wrapping. Butter paper is also known as baking or parchment paper. Cakes and slices currently wrapped in plastic will be swapped out for muffins – presumably not wrapped in plastic. 

Plastic cutlery will be swapped for eco-friendly birch cutlery. Plastic teacups will be switched to paper cups. Plastic drinking “glasses” will also be swapped for paper cups.

In Air India’s sights are its 200ml water bottles. They are to be replaced by 1500ml bottles and potable water on certain flights.

There’s a lot of plastic to go from this Air India inflight meal. Photo: Debarka Banik via Flickr.

It’s smart of Air India to pre-empt the Government on this. Even if ultimately it doesn’t change much, at least it looks proactive

There are mountains of plastic waste in India

It’s a nice initiative by Air India. According to Indian Government statistics, 5.6 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated annually in India. Anyone who has spent time in India and seen the mountains of plastic rubbish might ask, “Is that all?” The Government is embarking on a drive to cut plastic use. It got a mention in Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech in mid-August. 

Prime Minister Modi wants to see a nationwide ban on plastic bags, plates, cups, straws, water bottles and so on. And sooner rather than later. How that goes will be interesting to see. Delhi banned single used plastic shopping bags back in 2009 and Mumbai banned most of the items on the Prime Minister’s hitlist last year with local authorities issuing fines.

Will it make any difference

India is giving it a crack. According to a Times of India report, food and beverage outlets at Mumbai Airport are trying to reduce single plastic use. Vistara is also cutting out the use of 200ml water bottles and are swapping out plastic drinking cups for paper cups inflight.

Any initiative to reduce the mountains of waste in India is a good thing. Photo: Remi Kaupp via Flickr.

Food and beverage industries are big users of single-use plastics. There’s a big push to reduce their use overall, but given the convenience and hygiene benefits single-use plastics can offer, can a significant dint in single-use plastic consumption really be achieved?

Reducing plastic consumption is an admirable goal. But like reducing fossil fuel consumption it is probably a long term goal. It’s great that Air India and its subsidiaries or any business is attempting to reduce single-use plastic. How effective it is, how long it lasts, or what impact it makes in the long term is open to question.