Boeing’s 1st Sustainability Report: Here’s What You Need To Know

Divided into the four categories of People, Products and Services, Operations, and Communities, aerospace giant Boeing released its inaugural Sustainability report on Monday. Depicting the work of the manufacturer across environmental, social, and governance (ESG) topics over the past year, here are some of the main take-aways.

Boeing, Alaska Airlines, ecoDemonstrator
Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program has run since 2012, but this is its first so-named Sustainability Report. Photo: Boeing

While the past 18 months have naturally seen a lot of focus on health, safety and adapting to the conditions of a pandemic, 2020 was also the year that Boeing set up a Sustainability organization, formed in September last year. It also appointed a Chief Sustainability Officer in the form of Chris Raymond.

Passenger planes with 100% SAF by 2030

One of the main commitments announced in the report is that Boeing will make certain its commercial aircraft will be certified to fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. The highest ratio of SAF to conventional jet fuel blend for commercial passenger flights today is 50%. Meanwhile, in 2018, Boeing flew a 777 freighter powered solely by biofuel through its ecoDemonstrator program.

The company’s newly appointed CSO explained the reason behind Boeing’s focusing mostly on biofuel in the short term instead of other energy alternatives to kerosene.

“SAF is in regular use today and offers the most immediate and largest potential to reduce carbon emissions over the next 20 to 30 years across all aviation segments. Battery-electric energy storage and green hydrogen have potential but will require new design studies, safe certification approaches, new technology developments, platform developments, and new systemwide ground and network infrastructure to scale.”

United 737-900ER
Boeing says all of its aircraft will be certified to operate with 100% biofuel by 2030. Photo: Getty Images

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Electric for urban air mobility

Meanwhile, on a smaller scale, Boeing has advanced test flights for Cora – an all-electric self-flying eVTOL air taxi developed together with Kitty Hawk. The two companies’ joint-venture Wisk signed its first agreement to operate and maintain 30 of the aircraft as part of the Blade charter flight network in May this year. The two-person seater has now flown over 1,500 successful test flights.

Net-zero achieved across operations

It is not just in the products themselves Boeing is aiming to – and succeeding in – reducing emissions. In 2020 the company achieved net-zero CO2 emissions across its manufacturing and worksites. While some of this is achieved through debated carbon offsetting projects, Boeing has also switched towards renewable and sustainable energy sources.

Digital design, test, and production tools also aim to reduce energy expenditure across the entire manufacturing process, leading to a reduction of as much as 80% during assembly. Across Boeing’s plants, energy consumption has been reduced overall by 12%, water use by 23%, solid waste by 44%, and hazardous waste by 34%.

Boeing’s 1st Sustainability Report: Here’s What You Need To Know
The report – titled Sustainable Aerospace Together – includes work within all of the ESG topics. Photo: Boeing

Racial Equity Task Force

Meanwhile, Boeing says it is also committed to eradicating any racism and discrimination across its ecosystem. Over the past year, Boeing has fired 65 workers and disciplined another 53 as it has implemented a zero-tolerance approach towards discriminatory speech or behavior.

To continue its work towards justice and diversification, the manufacturer has set up a 20-member Racial Equity Task Force. Furthermore, it has instituted multi-million dollar grants to increase the number of minority and underserved students pursuing an education in STEM. Boeing says it hopes this will contribute to ‘diversifying the aerospace talent pipeline’.