|EasyJet last week debuted new uniforms for its cabin crew and pilots made from recycled plastic bottles, as the airline giant steps up efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its supply chain.
Each uniform is to be made from 45 plastic bottles and is manufactured by Tailored Image, a Northern-Ireland based staff uniform designer. The uniforms are to be rolled out for cabin crew from this month and are predicted to save 500,000 plastic bottles from going to waste each year, rising to a total of 2,700,000 bottles over course of the five-year contract between the companies.
EasyJet said the new uniform is part of the airline's broader commitments to reducing its environmental impact beyond carbon offsetting and cutting its on-board plastic waste.
"We are excited to be debuting this new pilot and cabin crew uniform made from recycled plastic bottles and to introduce it for our pilots and cabin crew colleagues," said Tina Milton, director of Cabin Services at easyJet. "We know that sustainability is an important issue for them and also for our customers.
The new material has a 75 per cent lower carbon footprint than traditional polyester and is more durable and more elastic than the non-recycled alternative, according to the airline, which said the clothes would deliver 'longer-lasting' wear and limit the need for more items to be manufactured.
Bernard Birt, managing director of Tailored Image, said: "Our role as a bespoke uniform and corporate wear provider is to deliver innovative solutions for our clients, built around comfort and practicality for their wearers. The additional challenge with the Easyjet project was to meet their exceptionally high standards in reducing environmental impact.
"By combining the expertise of our design and garment technology teams, we developed a collaborative approach with a mill that is leading the way in the development of sustainable fabrics."
In addition to the new material, any clothing-related plastic packaging has been replaced, such as substituting plastic collar strays with recyclable cardboard, and shirt clips with metals ones, the company said.
The move follows easyJet's efforts to reduce its onboard plastic, which saw it remove 27 million individual plastic items from inflight operations in the 2020 financial year.
Pre-empting criticism from environmental campaigns over the limited emissions savings on offer from developing new green uniforms compared to the company's significant aviation emissions, Milton said the company was committed to supporting the development of new technologies that can curb its carbon footprint in the long term.
"It is a priority for us to continue work on reducing our carbon footprint in the short term, coupled with long-term work to support the development of new technology, including zero-emission planes which aspire to reduce the carbon footprint of aviation radically," she said. "People have a choice in how they travel, and if people choose to fly with us, we want to be one of the best choices they can make."
In 2019, easyJet became the first major airline to operate carbon neutral flights across its global network through carbon offsetting its emissions and has previously announced plans to support the development of electric aircraft that could deliver zero emission short haul flights.
However, the company faced criticism from Greenpeace earlier this year after it moved to introduce 12 new domestic flights in the UK.