Just in time for your holiday flight back to whence you came, a little news about the environmental effects of your holiday airline travel that will make you feel almost as guilty as your relatives will. Much like your family tree (OK, maybe just mine), your trip will inevitably generate trash.
Airlines throw away tons and tons of cans, bottles, and paper each year, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. In one year, they dispose of enough aluminum cans to build 58 new Boeing 747s, and enough newspapers and magazines to bury a football field 230 ft. deep.
A single passenger leaves behind 1.3 pounds of waste, 75 percent of which is recyclable or compostable — but usually isn’t recycled or composted. And that’s just on the plane — our pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight activities generate a nationwide total of 425,000 tons of junk each year.
The good news, though, is that some airports and airlines are beginning to catch on. Seattle-Tacoma Airport composts 9 tons of coffee grounds each month, and saves $180,000 annually by composting and recycling.
In other plane waste news, a major Chinese airline is urging passengers to take care of their, er, business before boarding. Seems that a single flush at 30,000 feet uses a liter of jet fuel. Hauling your nasty around costs the industry an estimated $6 million a year, according to statistics released by the industry earlier this month.
And then, of course, there are the emissions and their role in climate change. A flight from New York City to Denver emits an amount of CO2 equal to each passenger driving an SUV daily for a month. The British Royal Society projects that by 2050, emissions from airlines will be one of the biggest contributors to global climate change.