Sustainable Amenities: Small Choices, Big Impact

Java City Small changes in weight can save millions of gallons of fuel and cut CO2 emissions each year.
Little savings—in energy, emissions, and raw materials—add up, and for a large, complex business such as commercial aviation, environmental responsibility is a matter of many, many decisions. For example, a great deal of thought goes into sourcing and recycling the amenities you may take for granted during your flight on American. For example, consider these facts about the beverages we serve you:

“Would you like some coffee?” On November 1, 2010, we introduced Java City coffee in our on-board beverage service—the clear winner in terms of our customers’ taste preferences. Rainforest Alliance-Certified Java City beans come from small farms, plantations, and cooperatives that meet rigorous standards for sustainable social, labor, and environmental practices.

“Make that decaf.”By changing to single-service decaf coffee, we have reduced excess weight onboard, reducing fuel burn and emissions.

It’s in the bottle. Greater awareness of environmental issues among virtually all bottled water suppliers has led to the availability of lighter bottles that use less plastic. These changes will help us reduce our plastic usage and its associated carbon emissions.

The same level of care for the environment lies behind many other services and amenities that make up your air travel experience on American. For example, when choosing services for laundering linens used in flight, we consider each supplier’s water and energy consumption, chemical reclamation practices, and recycling and donation programs. We print menus on paper that is approved by both the Sustainable Forest Initiative and the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, ensuring that it comes from sustainably grown and harvested trees. We also use certified paper to print tickets and boarding passes at self-service kiosks—part of our larger initiative to transition to certified or recycled paper throughout our operations.

When it comes to sustainable, environmentally responsible business practices, no detail is too small—because little things add up to major impacts.

Did you know?

American has reduced the weight of 19,000 the airline’s galley carts, which will reduce annual fuel consumption by 1.9 million gallons and lower AA’s carbon emissions by 18,000 metric tons annually.

Trading Off

We’ll be the first to agree that Styrofoam cups are not an ideal option for serving hot beverages in flight. Hard to retrieve from mixed recyclables, Styrofoam also takes a very long time to degrade in the landfill. From an environmental point of view, paper cups would seem to be a better option.

Styrofoam cups, however, are much lighter than paper, and so they help reduce fuel use—by quite a lot. Switching to paper cups would increase our fuel burn by 100,000 gallons a year, and our CO2 emissions by a proportionate amount.

Sometimes, when you’re working to be good to the environment, you have to make trade-offs. For now, we’re using Styrofoam for serving your hot coffee or tea safely while reducing your carbon footprint when you fly.

Back to Earth

Just as every flight returns to Earth, so do a lot of the parts and equipment used on that flight. For an airline, just as for any of us citizens in our local communities, being a good environmental steward means reusing and recycling as much as we can.

That’s why many of the paper items you see when traveling on American, from menu and safety briefing cards to our Latitudes magazine, are printed on paper with recycled content or paper certified as coming from sustainably managed forests. Most of our airport printers also use recycled paper, and have begun using paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Our flight attendants recycle more than 15 million aluminum cans each year—that’s as much weight as five new Boeing 737 aircraft! They also collect and recycle corks from wine bottles, and the blankets purchased by passengers and left onboard are collected at the end of each flight and donated to local shelters.

Our maintenance department is doing their part, too. At our maintenance facilities, aircraft parts and components that are being replaced provide a big recycling opportunity. The maintenance department sends these damaged or unused parts to local repair agents for reuse or recycling, instead of consigning them to landfills and junkyards. Many contain valuable metals, such as aluminum, copper, titanium, and molybdenum. In 20 10, our maintenance bases recycled over 1.7 million pounds of these and other metals.

And at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, American donates used bag cart tarps to a local company, Defy Bags, that makes high-fashion purses and messenger bags from reclaimed materials.