Japan Airlines To Use Household Waste Biofuel From San Francisco

Japan Airlines will start using biofuel made from household waste as a part of its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The new initiative is set to begin as early as 2022, using biofuel supplied by U.S firm Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc.

Japan Airlines To Use Household Waste Biofuel From San Francisco
Japan Airlines will use household waste biofuel on some of its routes from the U.S to Japan. Photo: Getty Images

Biofuel made out of household garbage

From April 2022 at the earliest, Japan Airlines will refuel select aircraft using biofuel processed from household trash. The airline will refuel its planes active on routes connecting the United States and Japan in San Francisco, although it is unclear how much biofuel will be used. According to Fulcrum BioEnergy, their biofuel,

“…is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent compared to conventional crude oil production.”

This won’t be the first time Japan Airlines incorporates sustainable aviation fuel. The airline has sporadically flown with biofuels in the past but is now set to ramp up use significantly. After the International Air Transport Association introduced its action plan to cut global aviation emissions in half by 2050, carriers have added impetus to start exploring sustainable solutions.

Japan Airlines 787
Japan Airlines has used biofuels previously but on a small scale. Photo: Japan Airlines

Rival airline All Nippon Airways, the largest carrier in Japan, recently announced its own sustainable fuel initiative, involving biofuels on flights out of Japan. The Japan Times also reports that All Nippon Airways will start using biofuels developed from food waste from 2023 onwards.

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Japan Airlines aims for net-zero emissions by 2050

Japan Airlines has been at the forefront of biofuel development in an effort to realize its ambitious goal of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. In 2018, the carrier invested $8.6m in startup Fulcrum BioEnergy, which will now lead the way in its use of sustainable fuels.

Japan Airlines Airbus A350
The airline is aiming for net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Photo: Airbus

As several airlines worldwide introduce their own biofuel initiatives, Japan Airlines is exploring other measures to further its environmental efforts. This includes purchasing emission credits from other airlines and developing advanced jets that will operate with reduced emissions. As investment in sustainable aviation fuels increases, it is hoped the cost and scale of production will be far more efficient than it is currently.

How effective are aviation biofuels?

Sustainable aviation fuels are significantly better for the environment, offering around an 80% reduction in emissions compared to conventional fuels. Much of the carbon footprint left by biofuels is a result of production and transportation – the fuel itself is comprised of various carbon-neutral sources.

Japan Airlines To Use Household Waste Biofuel From San Francisco
There has been no word on how much biofuel will be used for the new initiative. Photo: Boeing

However, biofuels are costly to develop and do not represent an economical choice for airlines. Consequently, supply is very low which leaves airlines reluctant to commit to major initiatives. Remarkably, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr claimed the airline would consume the entire global sustainable aviation fuel supply in just 36 hours.

Do you see sustainable fuels becoming a big part of the industry in the future?