Alaska Airlines announced the completion of its transition to paper cups for inflight beverages, eliminating more than 55 million plastic cups a year and replacing them with a more earth-friendly alternative. Switching to paper cups makes Alaska Airlines the first US airline to eliminate plastic cups. Combined with its Boxed Water™ partnership, these changes remove 2.2 million pounds of plastic waste from landfills annually, the equivalent weight of 24 Boeing 737s.
“Doing the right thing is one of our core values, and nothing is more right and urgent than protecting the beautiful places we connect our guests to through flight,” said Todd Traynor-Corey, general manager, Alaska Guest Products. Airlines. “This is another important step in our journey to eliminate single-use plastics and an important step for the industry to see how product innovations can chart a course towards a greener future.”
All inflight beverages on Alaska flights are now served in Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper cups or reusable cups for most first class services. Additionally, the airline began eliminating its five largest sources of plastic waste in 2018 by eliminating plastic straws and stir sticks from inflight service, a first for any airline at the time.
In 2021, Alaska continued its progress by eliminating plastic water bottle waste on board by replacing it with boxed water, another first for airlines. Boxed water cartons are made from FSC-certified renewable paper, 92% of which is plant-based, saving approximately 1.8 million pounds of single-use plastics on their annual flights.
“Eliminating plastics is a team effort,” Traynor-Corey said. “It requires extensive collaboration with our supply chain partners and onboard team to create new products and practices that move us towards a less plastic future. That progress only happens with a deeply shared commitment to care for our environment.”
Single-use plastics increase the use of fossil fuels, generate millions of tons of waste in landfills, and pollute waterways and wilderness areas. According to the most recent EPA study, an estimated 300 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide each year, and the vast majority is not recycled, either to accumulate in landfills or in the environment. While Alaska takes steps to eliminate plastics, it also encourages passengers to join them in reducing waste by bringing their own water bottles to #FillBeforeYouFly.
As part of our broader sustainability efforts, Alaska continues to pursue product innovations and supply chain advancements to achieve our 2025 goal of replacing the top five shipboard waste-producing items and continuing to recycle. In 2021, Alaska set climate targets for its carbon, waste, and water impacts, while defining a five-part path to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 to keep the places we live and fly beautiful and viable for future generations.