Water bottles are a ubiquitous part of the passenger experience. When you take your seat on almost any airline for almost any flight, you'll find bottles – plastic bottles – of varying sizes tucked away in seatback pockets or nestled into storage nooks.
Alaska Airlines is now ditching those plastic bottles with cartons of water, in a move which the Oneworld alliance member claims will remove 1.8 million pounds (816 tonnes) of single-use plastics from its aircraft over the next year – "equivalent to the weight of 18 Boeing 737 aircraft."
"We have a great recycling program, but we know single-use plastics have a big impact on the ecosystem and inevitably some will end up in a landfill or an ocean," explains Todd Traynor-Corey, Alaska Airlines' managing director of guest products.
"In order to reduce our waste footprint – and ultimately our carbon footprint – we need to actually eliminate single-use plastic. And the biggest offender is plastic water bottles."
These 'Boxed Water' cartons are made of 92% plant material sourced from sustainably harvested trees, and even the resealable cap comes from leftover materials in the paper-making process, while the entire carton is 100% recyclable.
Alaska Airlines began distributing Boxed Water in its domestic 'first class' (business class) cabins earlier this year, but is now serving Boxed Water in economy, where flight attendants will pour water into recyclable paper cups, which will remove over 22 million disposable plastic cups from Alaska's fleet.
The airline says that plastic cups will still be needed for soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, as they can leak through paper cups, so the airline is exploring "sustainable alternatives" for those cups as well.
Traynor-Corey adds that the airline encourage economy passengers to bring their own water bottles and fill them up before boarding.