Air New Zealand ditches plastic bottles for 'Plastic Free July'

Air New Zealand has announced it is doubling down on waste reduction.
"We’re really pleased to be able to share this progress to celebrate Plastic Free July," says Air NZ. Photo credit: Getty

Air New Zealand has announced it's more than doubling the number of single-use plastic items it's removing annually, from 24 million to nearly 55 million.

The airline is removing individual plastic water bottles from several flights for Plastic Free July, which it claims will stop more than 460,000 bottles heading to landfills and reduce carbon emissions by more than 300,000kg per year by reducing weight on the aircraft.

The announcement comes after Air NZ faced criticism for getting rid of newspapers from its Koru lounges, citing sustainability, with publishers NZME and Stuff questioning the move.

Later this year, Air NZ will also replace plastic coffee and water cups with vessels made from plants and recyclable alternatives.

"The lack of composting infrastructure available in New Zealand is a challenge, so we have been focused on reducing the amount of single-use plastic products we purchase in the first place," says Anna Palairet, a sustainability spokesperson for Air NZ.

"It's great to see more and more customers are bringing their reusable drink bottles and keep cups on board, and we encourage people to do this. Our cabin crew team is happy to fill these."

In May, rival airline Qantas conducted what it claimed was the world's first ever zero waste flight, while Virgin Australia ditched all plastic straws from its aircraft and lounges last year.