Flying Solo-Less

Alaskan airlines has recently announced they are going to switch from single use bottles and plastic cups to plant-based cartons and paper cups throughout 2022, starting on Thursday November 4th, 2021.  This is a big change for the company.  During a conducted study, the company looked into the products on board that carried the biggest environmental plastic footprint and found beverages to be the problem.  Alaskan airlines has worked hard to make attempts to recycle their plastic goods but this effort wasn’t always carried out by passengers or even some lazy airline workers so they decided to turn to a new alternative that should be better for the planet.

Paper Cups

Alaskan airlines has already stopped the use of all plastic straws on their flights.  Making the switch to plant-based cartons and paper cups will remove around 22 million plastic cups and 32 million plastic bottles, or ~1.8 million pounds of single-use plastic, from their flights throughout 2022.  To put this number into an image for you,  this is equivalent to how much 18 Boeing 373’s weigh.


Boeing 373

This change was brought into action by Diana Birkett Rakow, the Alaskan Airlines vice president of public affairs and sustainability.  She noticed all the beautiful places the airline flies over, and decided a change needed to occur within the company to make sure these places stay beautiful and untouched by plastic for years to come. Alaskan airlines is the fifth-largest airline carrier in the United States, so hopefully after this change is set into place, other airlines will realize how beneficial the switch to plant-based cartons and paper cups can truly be for the environment and they will too be persuaded to make a change within their companies.  Alaskan airlines has also started allowing passengers to pre-order fresh made food before their flights to cut down on plastic snack packaging during their flights.

Paper cups have their pros and cons though.  Paper cups break down faster in landfills and are easier to be processed at a recycling plant when being compared to plastic cups.  They are also still single use, which helps cut down on the spread of germs and contact, which is especially important during times like now when Covid-19 is still spreading around to lots of people.  One major con of these cups is that many contain an inside plastic film layer, used so liquids cannot seep through.  They can also cost more which may just not be a reasonable switch for some smaller businesses that have to keep their expenses low.

This switch is part of Alaskan Airlines’ five step plan to reduce their environment footprint and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.  Although this switch may seem like a huge step, there are still many more items that will need to be switch out and replaced over the years before this airline can claim they are 100% plastic free.  This switch only affects the materials water is served to customers and plastic cups will still be used on Alaskan airlines to serve alcohol and soda to consumers.


2 thoughts on “Flying Solo-Less

  1. This is really interesting info! Im happy to hear that big companies are beginning to switch to more sustainable alternatives. I like how you discussed that paper cups are better, but they also have their own issues. Good point to make!

  2. I agree with Nora, it’s nice to see that big companies are now beginning to switch to more sustainable alternatives. I hope that other airlines and big companies will begin to follow suit and make the switch.

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