Virgin America owner Branson calls time on plastic

Richard Branson has promised customers he will try and cut the use of plastic on board Virgin America flights.

Responding to complaints over Virgin’s use of plastic bottles, Branson writes on his website that he will leave “no stone un-turned” in attempts to cut waste.

“Your thoughts on reducing plastics onboard is one which is shared by the company and many of their teammates as well,” he says.

“At present, the airline has chosen to work with One Water as their onboard bottled water provider.

“One Water helps fund nonprofit clean water projects in under-served regions like Malawi. The actual bottles, made with recycled materials, also do offer a lower carbon footprint.”

Airlines are currently fighting attempts by the EU to charge them for the levels of carbon dioxide they emit in European airspace

In 2009 Virgin America,  a low cost offshoot of the Virgin Atlantic brand, became the first US airline to report carbon emissions through the Climate Registry.

In his letter Branson, who set up the Carbon War Room in 2009, adds that he is optimistic Virgin can improve on its ‘green’ record.

“With investments in a new fleet, emerging carbon-efficient aircraft technology, and a now LEED Platinum certified facility at our home airport at SFO (San Francisco), Virgin America’s goal is to focus energies on the larger impacts of our footprint. But as you rightly note, even small changes add up,” he says.

“In that vein, the company along with its teammate-led Green Team is always looking at ways to improve the airline’s carbon footprint and I’ve passed along your post to them.”

Air travel accounts for around 5% of global emissions, although exhaust fumes released high in the atmosphere are thought to have a more harmful effect than those at ground level.

That share is expected to grow as travel becomes ever cheaper and more accessible.

The EU is currently leading efforts to price emissions through its trading scheme, despite intense opposition from the USA, China, India and Russia.

Improvements in technology are also helping reduce aviation’s impact on the environment – Boeing claim their 787 Dreamliner will be 20% more fuel efficient than previous designs.

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