It’s no question that air traffic contributes a significant amount of pollution to the environment, and that many airlines run wasteful operations, with inadequate recycling programs, unsustainable dining options, and more.
Lucky for us, many airlines are also realizing the detrimental impact they have on global climate change and are looking to shake things up when it comes to their operations. With initiatives like building lighter, more efficient planes to reduce fuel consumption, researching alternative, clean fuel options, and adopting rigorous sustainability standards across the board, select airlines are doing what they can to make a positive difference around the world.
One such airline is Air France / KLM. This conglomerate airline has been working to improve their environmental performance and their community presence for a long time now, and their recent efforts have only been more impressive. They organize their efforts around four “pillars” of Corporate Social Responsibility, which include both “Environment” and “Local Development.” They publish a yearly report that conveys the successes and failures of this strategy, which is available online here if you’re interested.
Here are a few of the ways that Air France is working to be a greener carrier:
Energy & Water: With ambitious goals to reduce energy and water consumption and to improve energy efficiency, Air France has some hard work ahead of them. That said, they’ve improved their energy efficiency an impressive 18.6% since 2011 alone, and have decreased energy consumption by 15% and water use by 9% in the same period. They not only work to apply these things to their aircraft operations, but to their offices and warehouses as well (for example, their Helios warehouse utilizes some serious sustainable design and operating principles).
Emissions: Air France has fought hard to reduce their carbon emissions since 2011. They’ve improved their operational efficiency by 7.2%, meaning that their aircraft and associated vehicles use less fuel and create less C02. They’ve also reduced their overall carbon emissions 7% in the last six years through the introduction of more efficient aircraft like the B787-9, which uses 20% less fuel than comparable aircraft. They even offer a program for customers to calculate their contribution to carbon emissions, and to suggest ways to offset those emissions.
Biodiversity: Because C02 emissions from airplanes can seriously affect biodiversity, especially in more rural or wild regions of the world, Air France is working to reduce their emissions to protect the flora and fauna around the globe. They also support nature preservation programs through their charity work. One example is their forest preservation work in Madagascar, a program they’ve been a part of since 2008.
Dining: As part of their commitment to protecting biodiversity, Air France emphasizes responsible, sustainable sourcing in the food products they serve on flights. They focus on local, in-season produce to reduce transit costs and support local farms, and prefer organic fare where possible, especially in children’s meals. They also opt for sustainable seafood to protect the ocean’s biodiversity and to discourage irresponsible fishing.
Waste: In an effort to reduce the massive amount of waste that can potentially be generated by a commercial airline, Air France has introduced robust recycling programs, utilized recycled materials in airline staff uniforms, and worked to limit food waste. They’ve achieved a reduction of 7% in their waste production since 2007.