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Alaska Airlines has just become the first American airline to ban single-use plastic straws, citrus picks, and stirring sticks on all flights and in its lounges! Starting July 16, 2018, the airline will be phasing out the non-biodegradable utensils and replacing them with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified alternatives. To implement the changes, which will affect its 44 million passengers, the carrier has teamed up with the environmental group Lonely Whale, creator of the “For A Strawless Ocean” campaign.

The company will replace plastic stirring sticks with compostable versions made of white birch, while citrus picks will be substituted with bamboo ones. The airline will also introduce plastic-free drinking straws for customers who request them.

 

“Without a doubt, we fly to some of the most beautiful places on earth, including many communities that depend on healthy oceans,” said Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines’ Vice President of External Relations. “We’re thrilled to partner with Lonely Whale to take this next step in our sustainability journey, and help keep the places we live and fly beautiful for years to come. It’s especially appropriate now as ending plastic pollution was the theme for Earth Day this year.”

In 2017, Alaska Airlines handed out a total of 22 million plastic stir straws and citrus picks on its flights and frequent-flyer lounges. The shift to sustainable options will make a big difference.

The change is part of the airline’s overall goal to reduce its in-flight waste per passenger by 70 percent by 2020.

 

Since it started auditing its recycling efforts in 2010, the company has reduced passenger waste to landfills by 54 percent. The changes included replacing bottled beer with easier to recycle and lighter aluminum cans and reintroducing a policy to refill cups rather than require a new cup for every round of beverage service.

“The banning of single-use plastic beverage straws sets a new standard for the travel industry, and we couldn’t be happier that Alaska Airlines is the first. U.S. airline to lead the charge,” said Dune Ives, Lonely Whale’s Executive Director.

In the U.S. alone, 500 million plastic straws are used every day. They are among the very top plastic items that pollute the environment and threaten wildlife, but, fortunately, more and more businesses and governments are starting to recognize the problem and take action. To find out how you can help the planet by ditching straws and other single-use plastics, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

All image source: Alaska Airlines

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