Alaska Airlines eliminates inflight plastic cups: West Coast-based airline becomes first U.S. carrier to replace plastic with planet-friendly alternative
Alaska Airlines have announced the completion of their transition to paper cups for inflight beverages, a move which eliminates more than 55 million plastic cups annually and replaces them with a more planet-friendly alternative. The change to paper cups makes Alaska Airlines the first U.S. airline to eliminate plastic cups. Combined with their Boxed Water™ partnership, these changes eliminate 2.2 million pounds of plastic waste from landfills every year, the equivalent weight of 24 Boeing 737s.
Paper cups on board Alaska Airlines flights
“Doing the right thing is one of our core values and nothing is more right and urgent than protecting the beautiful places that we connect our guests to through flight,” said Todd Traynor-Corey, managing director of guest products for Alaska 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 to a greener future.”
All inflight beverages on Alaska flights are now served in Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper cups or reusable glassware for most First Class services. They began the process of eliminating their five largest sources of plastic waste in 2018 by removing plastic straws and stir sticks from inflight service – a first for any airline at the time.
In 2021, Alaska continued their progress by eliminating inflight plastic water bottle waste by replacing them with Boxed Water™, another first for airlines. Boxed Water™ cartons are made from renewable FSC certified paper, 92% of which is plant-based, saving an estimated 1.8 million pounds of single-use plastics on their flights annually.
“Eliminating plastics is a team effort,” said Traynor-Corey. “It requires broad collaboration with our supply chain partners and inflight team to make new products and practices that move us toward a future with less plastic. 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 to landfills, and pollute waterways and natural spaces. According to the most recent EPA study, an estimated 300 million tons of plastics are produced each year worldwide with the vast majority going unrecycled, either to accumulate in landfills or the environment. While Alaska takes steps to eliminate plastics, they also encourage their guests to join them in reducing waste by bringing their own water bottles to #FillBeforeYouFly.
As part of their broader sustainability efforts, Alaska continues to pursue product innovations and supply chain advancements to achieve their 2025 goal of replacing the top five waste-producing items from onboard service and continuing to recycle. In 2021, Alaska established climate goals for its impacts in carbon, waste and water while defining a five-part pathway to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040 to keep the places we live and fly beautiful and viable for generations to come.