CSR / Sustainability
By Debbie Pappyn, Classe Touriste
3 April 2013 | If you like the life jacket the flight attending is showing during her emergency presentation, you might want to check out Air France’s new cooperation with the French upcycle brand bilum. Both brands are presenting a collection of travel cases made from recycled life jackets and old advertising posters that were on display at Paris Orly airport in spring 2012.
As all life jackets have a limited lifespan, Air France has asked bilum to give them a new life, rather than destroying them. This partnership fits into Air France’s philosophy to reduce its environmental impact and to give something back to certain communities.
The first collection of 400 cases made from life jackets were launched in December 2012 and are available for sale online at Air France and Bilum at a price of 19 euros for the flat case and 24 euros including tax for the padded case.
For the moment you can still buy bags and ticket wallets made from the giant Air France canvas posters dating from summer 2012. The posters show a girl lying in the green grass on a bed of flowers in the shape of an airplane. Prices range from 69 euro to 285 euro for a bag.
All cases from bilum are manufactured in France by people with disabilities as part of a work insertion scheme by the E.S.A.T., a French organisation that aims to integrate people with disabilities into the mainstream labour market. They are hand-cut from a piece of the jacket or poster and the fabric is not changed in any way, so that each case is unique. No two items are the same.
14 April 2012 | Aiming to provide business travellers with an easy transfer to and from the airport, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has aunched the Schiphol Business Taxi, a luxury taxi service designed to help business travellers start or end their journey in business class style. Besides petrol-powered vehicles, the new taxi service also offers a green, electric option, the so-called ‘Electric Business Taxi’.
The Schiphol ‘Electric Business Taxi’ is 100 percent powered by electricity and can cover a radius of around 100 kilometers. This makes it suited to short distances, such as journeys between Schiphol and central Amsterdam or the Amsterdam Zuidas business district. Taxi drivers receive a short training to learn to reduce speed by using the engine, instead of the brakes, in order to generate as much energy as possible and maximise the radius. The electric taxis also offer wi-fi connectivity, which eventually will be rolled out to all Schiphol Business Taxis as well.
The business taxi service can be reserved up to four hours ahead of departure, and passengers can be picked up at (or transported to) anywhere in the Netherlands. Rates for a transfer for one person with luggage are EUR42 into the business district, EUR58 to the centre of Amsterdam and EUR124 o central Rotterdam. Extra services such as an escort to and from the gate and check-in assistance are also offered. The service is offered by a joint venture between Schiphol and Connexxion, the largest public transport company in the Netherlands.
There are currently 2 electric Renault Fluence Z.E. (zero emission) taxis in operation and another 4 vehicles will be added this June. The Renault Fluence Z.E. cars are the result of a partnership between Schiphol Airport, the City of Amsterdam and Better Place, a company that provides what it calls “electric car networks,” a network of battery switch stations combined with the supply of batteries that power the electric cars.
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10 March 2012 | Besides taking measures to significantly reduce fuel consumption by flying new and re-engined aircraft, experimenting with biofuel, creating more economical flight paths and descents, applying winglets and nano paint in order to streamline aircraft even further, and reducing weight of cargo containers and cabin interiors (e.g, seats, trolleys), airlines have also come up with eco-initiatives that are more visibile to passengers, most notably onboard recycling.
As a spokesman of UK-based leisure airline Monarch stated when the airline introduced an onboard recycling program several years ago: “Monarch has been operating a paper collection scheme onboard its flights for a number of years now,” he said, “but feedback from passengers and crew highlighted the fact that the recycling of other items, such as plastics and cans, is a part of everyday life now which people wished to continue – if they were at home they’d be recycling the items, so why should they not do so on flights?”
Air France, which says it already recycles that 80 percent of the items used for onboard service, has now come up with a small, but sympathetic initiative, that shows passengers that it makes an effort to recycle as many items as possible. The airline recently began asking passengers on domestic and European flights to drop their free newspapers in a dedicated container when leaving the aircraft. Local businesses then collect the newspapers and recycle them. According to the airline, tests carried out with customers show that over 75 percent of passengers place their newspapers in these containers.
Air France says it also seeks to recycle its polystyrene meal boxes that are distributed on its European routes. Meal packs on medium-haul Air France flights are made of recyclable polystyrene and cabin crew collect and sort the used packs, which when recycled by the supplier are used to make Air France cutlery.
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8 March 2012 | Spanish national carrier Iberia, pizza chain Telepizza and open innovation network Ideas4All in January 2012 launched a ‘Books for Colombia’ campaign with the aim of bringing some 70,000 textbooks and reading books to underprivileged Colombian children and teenagers. The campaign, which kicked off on January 10 and ended on February 10, 2012, called on customers of Telepizza to contribute books they no longer need but that are in good condition.
‘Books for Colombia’ arose from a suggestion made by a Telepizza employee to the Ideas4All website, noting that the boxes on the motorbikes used to deliver pizzas to homes might be used for something worthwhile on the return journey. Telepizza is a Spanish pizza chain that operates more than 600 stores in Spain and over 400 outlets in countries such as Portugal, Chile and Colombia.
Customers could donate books that they no longer use to the Telepizza delivery person, after they have ordered a home delivery. Alternatively, they could donate them directly in any of the Telepizza outlets participating in the campaign. The collected books will be flown to Colombia by Iberia in March, where they will be classified and distributed to 120 libraries and schools in Colombian rural and inner cities by local NGO Buena Nota. Says Manuel López Aguilar, Iberia’s Manager of Sales and Customers, “We loved this idea from the start, since it involves two of Iberia’s hallmarks: as a bridge to Latin America, and as a proactive promoter of culture and human progress.”
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24 January 2012 | Southwest Airlines in October 2009 turned a B737-700 into a ‘beta-plane’ to test a series of sustainable interior materials, such as environmental-friendly leather and recycable carpet. This so-called ‘Green Plane’ has been operating in regular revenue service, so Southwest could evaluate normal wear and durability. Based on the in-flight test results and feedback from customers onboard the Green Plane, Southwest has just announced its new ‘Evolve’ interior, which will feature refurbished seats, more under-seat space, new carpets and a more stylish colour palette. Southwest says the materials used are “green” and lighter, reducing each aircraft’s weight by several hundred pounds per plane, thereby saving fuel and costs.
APEX reports that Southwest is retaining the B/E Aerospace-manufactured ‘Innovator II’ seat frames on its 737-700s, but will add fixed wing head rests, new, thinner, more durable foam fill, and synthetic ‘E-Leather’ seat covers – an eco-friendly, lightweight and scuff resistant alternative to traditional leather. The airline is also removing the under-seat floatation device – and instead adding smaller and lighter life vest pouches – to create weight savings of nearly six pounds per seat. A smart new feature are netted seat pockets, which have so-called ‘crumb catchers’ at the bottom that can be zippered open to allow the crumbs to come out. Furthermore, completely recyclable, carbon-neutral carpet from InterfaceFLOR will be laid in squares, rather than rolls, which eliminates the need for total carpet replacement.
The slimmer refurbished seats will also allow Southwest to reduce seat pitch from 32 to 31 inch and add an additional row on its 737-700s without sacrificing personal space. Southwest, however, emphasizes that “it was never our objective to add a row of seats, and the extra row isn’t the main reason for this redesign. Once we examined how much space would be saved, it was determined we could accommodate the increase, without sacrificing comfort.”
Southwest will receive its first 737-800 ‘Sky Interior’ aircraft with the new Evolve interior in April 2012 and subsequently will start a retrofit of its fleet of 372 B737-700s. The operation is planned to be completed by the end of 2013 and represents an USD60 million investment. The airline, however, anticipates the new interior – coupled with the gain in seat capacity – will produce savings of about USD250 million annually.
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27 July 2011 | With the world’s population growing and becoming increasingly wealthy, IATA estimates 16 billion passengers will fly each year by 2050. But as passenger counts grow, airlines are needing ever-more fuel to keep their fleets in the sky. As air transport is the only mode of transport that will remain dependent upon liquid fuels for the foreseeable future, the aviation industry and the research community has no choice other than to develop and test alternatives. Furthermore, with oil prices rising and European emissions trading slated to begin in 2012, airlines will be faced with new expenses. Not only will they have to pay for the fuel the industry consumes, they’ll also need to acquire certificates for each ton of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.
Airlines in June 2011 won approval from from the US standards body ASTM International to power planes with blends including biofuels for commercial flights. Biofuel refers to fuel made from renewable organic raw materials and is more efficient than kerosene and emits less greenhouse gas when burned. Depending on how the biomass used to make the fuel is produced, results could range between 50 and 80 percent less CO2 emissions. Although biofuel use is still not financially sustainable, as it is more expensive than ordinary aviation fuel and no large-scale production or distribution has yet been established, Europe’s first users of biofuel, KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair and Thomson Airways hope the increased interest from airlines in biofuel will encourage more companies to enter the growing market and help make it financially viable.
KLM, Finnair, Thomson
Following the world’s first demonstration flight carrying passengers with a B747 with one if its four engines running on a 50/50 blend of jetfuel and biofuel from the camelina plant, KLM aldo operated the world’s first commercial biofuel flight on June 29th 2011, using a blend of cooking oil recycled from restaurants to power a Boeing 737-800. The Dutch Inspectorate for Transport, Public Works & Water Management granted KLM permission to operate the return flight between Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Both flights had an almost full load of 171 passengers and KLM plans to operate some 200 AMS-CDG commercial flights powered in part by biokerosene from September 2011 on.
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15 June 2011 | Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport last year introduced a simple but effective system to achieve more sustainable taxi services at the airport. To reduce emissions, a dispatch system for taxis was introduced that gives priority to so-called ‘eco taxis’ – vehicles that emit less than 120 gram of CO2 per kilometer – in the airport’s taxi lanes. The fewer emissions a taxi produces, the shorter the waiting time will be for being dispatched to the taxi lane in front of the terminal. Says one taxi driver at the airport: “I save at least one hour a day in this way, as I do not have to stand at the end of the ‘normal’ taxi line.”
CO2 emissions-based dispatch system
According to the airport, the taxi dispatch system is the only one of its kind in the world that automatically gives the shortest waiting times to cars with the lowest environmental impact, such as hybrid, biofuel or flexi-fuel powered vehicles. All taxis that deliver and pick up customers at Stockholm-Arlanda are gathered in a designated remote parking area. To get physical access to this area, and participate in the queue system, a taxi has to be registered at the airport. This provides Arlanda Airport with the opportunity to calculate CO2 emissions based on the vehicle’s registration certificate. In line with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions model, a 65 percent deduction in emissions is made for cars that run on ethanol and an 85 percent deduction is made for those that run on biogas, as net emissions are lower with green fuel.
To ensure vehicles that run on ‘green’ fuel actually refuel with it, there is a monitoring system that checks to ensure whether the car has at least 80 percent of the fuel indicated. To make things easier for green fuel taxis, Sweden’s biggest biogas filling station also opened at the airport in September 2010. Taxi companies that serve the airport have been replacing their taxis with less CO2 emitting cars, which also has a positive effect on the whole region.
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15 April 2011 | Aiming to be a model of sustainable building and relaxing travel, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has just opened its renovated Terminal 2 (T2). The USD383 million facility is the new home for Virgin America and American Airlines domestic flights.
Built on the footprint of the old terminal from 1954, SFO’s new T2 will become the first LEED Gold-certified airport terminal in the U.S. and re-uses about 90 percent of the materials from the original building, including terrazzo flooring made from recycled glass chips. Other sustainable building techniques include walls of windows that makes most daytime artificial lighting unnecessary and a new ventilation system that requires 20 percent less energy. A stand-alone plumbing system for the toilets is supplied with reclaimed ‘gray’ water from the airport’s treatment plant, reducing water consumption by 40 percent.
Noticeable eco-friendly features for passengers are energy efficient mood lighting in the ticketing area, ‘hydration stations’ to refill water bottles post-security, organic and local food options, and waste recycling and composting bins placed throughout the terminal.
As regulations prohibit taking bottled water through security, San Francisco’s T2 encourages passengers to empty their plastic containers before entering the screening area. After passing through the checkpoint, passengers can stop at so-called ‘hydration stations’ to refill their water bottles for free. SFO hopes the hydration stations will encourage passengers to reduce waste and in February 2011 also installled a similar facility at its Terminal 3. For those that want to purchase bottled water post-security, vendors at T2 are only allowed to sell water in compostable bottles.
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7 March 2011 | Since security rules were tightened several years ago, passengers are not allowed to take more than a tiny drop of water (3 fl oz / 90ml in the U.S. and 100 ml in Europe) through security. This has been a nuisance for the travelling public, as many people have to purchase a bottle of water again beyond security to replace the one left behind.
Alternatively, passengers can bring an empty bottle through security and fill it up from a tap on the other side. However, as the Economist last year blogged, surprisingly few airports have made water fountains available or have hidden them in hard to find corners (by the way Amsterdam Schiphol Airport’s new ‘Ambient Gate’ is a welcome exception). Furthermore, bathroom sinks and public drinking fountains are often not in a very hygienic state, and many aren’t designed to allow for a easy fill of a bottle.
Global Tap hydration stations
San Francisco International Airport (SFO), already one of the most environmentally active airports in the U.S., has come up with an innovative solution to solve this situation and to reduce plastic waste. The airport has installed two tap water ‘hydration stations’ in the ‘airside’ part of the terminal and encourages passengers to carry their emptied plastic containers through security.
The water bottle refill stations were designed by IDEO and developed by a company called Global Tap. Users place their bottle under a spigot, press a button and tap water flows vertically into the container. The blue slender question mark-shaped hydration stations are also easy to be recognized by travellers and have been installed near the food court in SFO’s Terminal 3 (used by United Airlines) and at the airport’s International Terminal. More pictures of the Global Tap stations at SFO are available here and here. Read full article »
14 February 2011 | Airports are fast becoming sites where alternative fuel-powered vehicles are tested, as the trials can be carried out within an contained area or on standard routes, for example between the city and the airport. We have covered the use of environmental-friendly vehicles at airports before on airlinetrends.com (“Airport vehicles go green”), for example KLM has been testing the ‘AirPod’, a zero-emission vehicle that runs on compressed air, to transport people and light cargo at Schiphol Airport.
Another promising green technology are hydrogen fuel cells, which combined with oxygen in the air, produce electricity to power vehicles, with water as the only emission. If the electricity used in producing the hydrogen is generated by wind, water or solar energy, the result is a zero-emission energy source.
All Nippon Airways
At Tokyo Narita Airport, All Nippon Airways (ANA) has teamed up with Toyota to test the latest version of the Toyota Highlander ‘FCHV-adv’ (which stands for fuel cell hybrid vehicle-advanced). During February and March 2011, the vehicles will be used as part of ANA’s ‘Welcome-Home Limousine Taxi Service’ for premium passengers returning to Japan on flights from Europe or the U.S., as well as for the airline’s early morning pickup service. The Toyota’s operated by ANA will be used to collect data on the performance of the fuel-cell, such as fuel efficiency and consumption, both in the city-style as on the highway. Toyota plans to have a consumer-ready version of the FCHV-adv available on the U.S. market by the end of 2015.
The initiative by ANA and Toyota follows a similar trial by Virgin Atlantic and General Motors in 2008. As part of GM’s ‘Project Driveway’ zero-emission trial, Virgin Atlantic used three hydrogen fuel cell-powered Chevrolet Equinox SUVs to provide complimentary ground transportation for its ‘Upper Class’ passengers in Los Angeles and New York.
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10 December 2010 | We have reported earlier on how KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic have teamed up with outside designers in ‘upcycling’ initiatives that gave old uniforms and aircraft seats a second life as bags and other accessories. Not only is upcycling a good way to re-use discarded materials, it also make a great story behind the new products that were created out of old aircraft interior materials. Now Finnair is the latest airline to announce a series of upcycling initiatives.
Uniforms, seat covers, seat belts, curtains and life vests
In 2009, Finnair assigned Globe Hope the task of giving a new use to the fabric of Finnair’s discarded uniforms. Helsinki-based Globe Hope specializes in the design and production of clothing and accessories from recycled materials. The dark-blue fabric used in Finnair’s jackets and ties was converted into toilet bags and Globe Hope also turned Finnair seat belts into toilet bags for men. In early 2010, Finnair also commisioned sustainable design firm EDEL City with the design of a stylish bag set from used aircraft curtains and seatbelts. In June 2010, EDEL City’s launched the first item of its so-called ‘F-air-line’ collection, a luxurious shopping bag which retails for EUR59. EDEL City says it is planning more upcycled ‘F-air-line’ items.
Furthermore, as the vivid yellow material of old life vests also lend themselves perfectly to be re-used as high-visibility safety clothing for school children, Finnair donated 200 yellow safety vests to the first graders of two local schools.
In another upcycling initiative, parts of Finnair’s recently retired MD-11 aircraft have been refashioned by Finnish design agency Seos Design into energy efficient LED lamps. Says Pekka Kumpula, creative director at Seos Design, “I went to have a look around Finnair’s Technical Services facilities and became especially interested in the potential of the support elements for video monitors, from which the ‘First Class / Eco Lighting’ LED lamps evolved.”
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8 November 2010 | Opening on November 24th, 2010 at Colorado’s Denver International Airport, Canopy Airport Parking is an über-green parking facility that aims to be a model for future green parking projects. The 4200-car eco-friendly parking is powered by solar, wind and geothermal energy sources and is illuminated by LED lamps. Canopy also provides free charging for electric vehicles and minivans powered by alternative fuel shuttle travelers between the parking lot and the airport terminal.
According to the companies behind Canopy, Greenscape Capital and Propark America, the parking facility is designed as a practical ‘proof-of-concept’ to demonstrate that airport parking lots can be more energy efficient and reduce their environmental impact. Canopy aims to be the world’s first LEED-Gold certified project of its kind and the two companies intend to apply the knowledge gained at Canopy to other parking facilities.
Wind, solar and geothermal energy
Eight wind turbines, manufactured by Windspire and designed to operate in urban settings, have been installed around the main entrance of the Canopy parking. The 30 feet tall and 4 feet wide wind turbines have a propeller-free design and operate in an ultra-quiet manner. Six poles holding solar panels, manufactured by Evergreen are also installed at the parking facility. These solar panels have the lowest voltage per watt rating and the smallest carbon footprint in the industry. Furthermore, geothermal energy from 300-feet deep holes heat and cool the buildings, while reflective roofing reduces air conditioning load. Canopy also plans to harness landfill-produced methane gas, which it will convert to natural gas to meet its energy needs.
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13 September 2010 | Following earlier initiatives by Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic (seat covers and curtains), KLM is upcycling its old uniforms into bags, belts and slippers. In April 2010, more than 11,000 female cabin crew, ground staff and pilots at KLM changed into new uniforms designed by Dutch couturier Mart Visser. All blue items of the previous female uniform were collected for recycling, which resulted in 90,000 kilos of fabric.
Because of security reasons, many airlines destroy discarded uniforms as wearing an old airline outfit could make it easier to slip through airport security illegally. Airline uniforms are also in popular demand for carnival or even worse in erotic clubs. For this last reason, Japan Airlines says it has recently marked its uniforms as its restructuring will make thousands of staff redundant. Second-had JAL uniforms can generate as much as EUR2,500 and are a popular ‘roleplay’ costume.
KLM says it has been looking for ways to discard its uniforms in a thorough but sustainable way. The airline has teamed up with Texperium, which was recently set up with the help of the Dutch government, and promotes the reprocessing of discarded textiles and the development of high added value products from recycled fibres. KLM is the first company to use a new machine which reduces textile to small flocks, which then become the basic material for new products. According to the airline the recycling of the 90,000 kilos of uniforms saves 500 million litres of water, 1 million cubic meter of natural gas, and 4,600 tons of CO2. See this video (in Dutch) for an impression of KLM’s upcycling process.
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6 August 2010 | Singapore Airlines has introduced an electronic version of its its three in-flight magazines – SilverKris (in-flight magazine), KrisShop (sales catalogue); and KrisWorld (entertainment guide) – on its KrisWorld in-flight entertainment system. The digital magazines will be high resolution and passengers will be able to choose their own font, search by keyword, and zoom in to aid reading. Singapore Airlines says it is the first in the world to offer an e-magazine. The e-magazines are part of a trial with a Singapore-based company, SmarttPapers Aviation. and Singapore Airlines says it eventual goal is to create a paperless aircraft.
The airline may extend the initiative at a later date to cover other publications, including menu cards and the more than 100 international and local magazines carried in the cabin. This is “in line with efforts to reduce the amount of paper carried on board, thus reducing weight and saving fuel”, the carrier said in a statement. “E-books and e-magazines have gained popularity and we want to offer these to our customers.” The digital magazines made their debut on 2 B777-300ERs on 31 July, and will be followed by 2 A380s, before being rolled out Singapore Airlines aircraft equipped with the Panasonic eX2 IFE system. Read full article »
22 July 2010 | Portland, Oregon is known as one of the most bike-friendly cities around. In fact, it has recently been named the world’s second best cycling city (after Amsterdam and before Copenhagen). For travelers and airport staff, the city also makes it easy to take a bike on the light rail train that runs to and from Portland International Airport (PDX). Furthermore, PDX is one of the few airports with a bike path that connects to the airport.
As many travelers visit Oregon and the state of Washington for bike tourism or to participate in the region’s popular bicycle races, PDX recently has opened a ‘bike assembly station’ where travelers can assemble and disassemble their bikes before and after flights. The new service helps cyclists more quickly prepare their bikes for travel, whether it’s away from the airport on the PDX bike path or for a return flight home. The bike station is also available to airport employees who bike to work. As an extra service, basic bike tools, such as a pedal wrench and air pump, are available for check-out at the Travel Oregon welcome center in the bag claim area. Read full article »