Embedding Sustainability in Everything We Do

The Travel Experience

We are dedicated to our efforts to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and people-first future for air travel. In 2022, we continued our initiative to largely eliminate single-use plastics onboard our aircraft and introduced new, more sustainable products. Additionally, we diverted 2 million pounds of waste from the landfill. We analyzed passenger consumption to understand what they consumed onboard, allowing our team to onboard provisions accordingly. Understanding consumption prevents wasted products and saves fuel through reduced weight onboard our aircraft.
REDUCING Onboard Single-use Plastics
In early 2022, we refreshed our onboard product offerings, and as a result of the initial replacement strategy, we estimate onboard single-use plastic consumption is reduced by approximately 4.9 million pounds per year through:
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Continuing our transition to bamboo cutlery, introducing biodegradable dishware and replacing plastic placemats with premium paper. These transitions reduce annual plastic use by an estimated 2.4 million pounds.
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Offering Imagery’s cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay onboard, starting with select coast-to-coast flights and expanding to all domestic flights. The wine’s aluminum packaging reduces annual plastic use by up to 250,000 pounds. Imagery’s wines are also sustainably grown, as certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
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Being among the first airlines to use 100% recycled polyester (rPET) bedding, which – combined with the new reusable bedding packaging – reduces single-use plastic by up to 260,000 pounds per year.
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Offering Delta One customers new amenity kits created by artisans from Someone Somewhere, a Certified B Corporation that combines traditional handcrafts with innovative products, preserving artisan traditions. The kits help reduce Delta’s annual plastic use by up to 90,000 pounds by eliminating five single-use plastic items, including zippers and packaging.
Reflective of our sustainability and giving back culture, we donated 1.3 million pounds of bedding, amenity kits, nonperishable food, water and other items to those in need in 2022. These donations, valued at $4.3 million, also included 68,000 pounds of PPE and first aid supplies and 90,000 pounds of perishable food that would have gone to the landfill.
pounds of bedding and towels
pounds of water
pounds of amenity kits
As we move into 2023, we continue to look for innovative alternatives to single-use plastic products. We will explore alternative materials such as recyclable paper products as a key to further reduction. Our teams also continue to test a rotable cup program as we assess the viability of reusable cups on board commercial flights. These programs are our first steps in 2023 to further plastic reduction aboard our flights.

We also seek to source alternatives for certain products from which we cannot eliminate waste. To evaluate whether the alternatives we are sourcing for our onboard service and beyond represent a more sustainable option, we utilize a life cycle analysis tool to calculate and compare the GHG footprint and other environmental metrics of different product types.
Sky Clubs
Delta Sky Clubs have eliminated pre-packaging for most food items and aim to use biodegradable or recyclable packaging options where feasible. Most clubs also have limited plastic products and have switched to compostable or reusable serviceware.
Minneapolis−Saint Paul, Seattle–Tacoma and San Francisco International Airport clubs aim to be zero waste, defined as 90% landfill diversion. These clubs recycle, compost and provide reusable food service items.
Resuming Onboard Recycling
Many airports halted their recycling programs during the pandemic. We have been working with each of these airports to help support them in all efforts to resume their programs. Our teams continue working with airports affected by logistical constraints to recycle at as many locations as possible. Through this hard work, we are currently recycling at 46 domestic airports.

The Power of Collaboration

In 2022, Delta took part in the Sky Team Alliance’s Sustainable Flight Challenge to test and explore sustainability solutions. This initiative brought partner airlines together to share learnings and innovations with the common goal of reducing the industry’s carbon footprint.

On the Plane

Our most fuel-efficient aircraft in service at the time, the 737-900ER, took off powered by a fuel blend that included 400 gallons of SAF – marking a record for the largest amount of SAF used on a flight out of Atlanta. Gevo supplied the SAF for this record-breaking flight through its partnership with our team.
The aircraft included specific features to increase fuel efficiency and reduce drag, including new landing gear tires that reduce plane weight by 100 pounds and winglets.
One hundred percent electric ground service equipment (eGSE) bookended the Atlanta to Salt Lake City flight with battery-powered tractors and carts that loaded baggage and fuel. As mentioned in previous sections, we have invested to achieve a 25% eGSE fleet by the end of 2022, aiming for 50% by the end of 2025 and a 100% eligible eGSE fleet by 2035.

In the Sky

Aboard our record-breaking flight, our customer experience included receiving soft pillows and blankets made from recycled plastic bottles. Customers seated in First Class selected from an array of more sustainable menu offerings, such as meat sourced from ranches that practice regenerative land management and locally grown vegetables. First Class customers choose their meals before boarding, preventing wasted food on the flight. We offered all customers gourmet snacks served in recyclable packaging.
Additionally, customer service used no disposable plastic, recycled all beverage packaging and composted food scraps and serviceware in Salt Lake City. This flight was zero waste, with the exception of safety, health and hygiene items that must be single-use.