May 22 2018  |  Airline & Terminal News

Alaska Airlines to introduce sustainable stir straws, picks

By Rachel Debling

FSC-certified white birch stir sticks bring eco-sensibility to Alaska's coffee service

Alaska Airlines has partnered with nonprofit Lonely Whale in an initiative that aims to remove plastic stir straws and citrus picks from the airline's lounges and flights and replace them with sustainable options as of July 16. This move is part of the airline's greater goal of reducing inflight waste going to landfills by 70 percent per passenger by 2020.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified white birch stir sticks and a bamboo citrus picks will supplant the current plastic options; non-plastic, marine-friendly straws will still be available to Alaska customers with special needs upon request.

Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of external relations, commented in a May 21 statement: “Whether providing fantastic service or leading in sustainability, caring about people and communities is in our DNA. Without a doubt, we fly to some of the most beautiful places on earth, including many communities that depend on healthy oceans. 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.

“Assisting Alaska Airlines in removing plastic straws is an incredible opportunity,” said Dune Ives, Lonely Whale executive director, in the same release. “The airline has the most comprehensive inflight recycling program of any U.S. carrier to date, and their previous and future commitments to biofuels and sustainability makes them the perfect partner for Lonely Whale. 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.”

Alaska has cut its passenger waste going to landfills by 54 percent since it began auditing its recycling efforts in 2010. They have also switched from beer bottles to lighter and easy-to-recycle aluminum cans, and have also enacted a policy in which plastic cups are refilled during inflight beverage service.

“Building on our grassroots, employee-led recycling program, we’re thrilled to take the next step to protecting our land and oceans by removing single-use non-recyclable plastic straws from our planes,” said Jacqueline Drumheller, sustainability manager for Alaska Airlines.

Bamboo citrus picks garnish inflight drinks while being kind to the earth

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