UK low-cost carrier easyJet has won a sustainability award for its new pilot and cabin crew uniforms made from 100% recycled plastic. The airline received the accolade at the 2021 Professional Clothing Industry Association Worldwide Awards for keeping millions of plastic bottles from ending up in landfills or finding their way into the oceans.
Why it matters
While 98% of emissions in the aviation industry come from burning jet fuel, that does not mean there are no other areas where sustainability matters. At least eight million tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year. As many as 500 billion plastic bottles are used globally per year, with the average person consuming 156. Sixty million plastic bottles are thrown away every day in the US alone.
easyJet’s new uniforms were introduced this summer and utilize 100% recycled plastic. Each uniform is made up of 45 bottles. Over five years, this equates to preventing 2,7 million bottles from ending up in landfills or oceans. It may be just a drop in the sea, but it sets an important example for what is possible – until the world can find a way to deal with its plastic addiction.
“It is fantastic to see our new sustainable uniforms being celebrated. Sustainability is extremely important to us at easyJet, and we continue to work every day to identify and implement ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint across all areas of the business,” said Tina Milton, Director of Cabin Services at easyJet, in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Lower carbon footprint
The new uniforms are manufactured by Northern Ireland-based professional clothing specialist Tailored Image and have been issued to both cabin crew and pilots. The new high-tech material fabric has a 75% lower carbon footprint than regular polyester.
Furthermore, the company has replaced plastic in all clothing-related packaging, opting instead for recyclable and biodegradable materials. For instance, cardboard collar strays have replaced their plastic counterparts, and shirt covers are now biodegradable rather than polypropylene.
“Sustainability matters to us, it matters to our customers and together we are making a difference to our environment in a way that does not compromise either the aesthetics of our uniforms or the streamlined processes via which they are ordered and delivered,” Tailored Image’s Managing Director, Bernard Birt, commented following the reward ceremony.
Targeting emissions across all areas
Beyond working to accelerate new propulsion technology, such as through partnering with Wright Electric, easyJet is looking at different initiatives to cut back emissions across its operations. In August this year, the airline launched a project in collaboration with Bristol Airport to test technological solutions for decarbonizing ground operations and reducing waste. The technologies that are deemed successful will then be implemented across easyJet’s network to the extent possible.