Good environmental practice is an important investment for TAP, who in 2010 received the UNESCO Planet Earth Award. Despite such recognition, the Portuguese airline wants to be even greener.
Eco-friendly amenity kits, which have been distributed free to TAP Executive Class passengers since June, are just one more of the many initiatives aimed at making the Portuguese airline greener, combining economic performance with social and environmental responsibility.
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In 2004, when a specific department was set up to deal with environmental issues, the company made the reduction of consumption and carbon emissions one of its main aims: “We have made considerable progress in the last seven years”, explains Maria João Calha, environmental coordinator at TAP Services.
The first step was to involve nearly seven thousand company staff in various initiatives: “Raising awareness among employees about the importance of recycling waste was the turning point, and the installation of recycling containers in 2006 created an internal dynamic.” Act Eco was the name given to this campaign which involved employees in concrete action. One of the priorities is the management of all waste produced. The percentage of recyclable waste such as paper, toners and packaging has increased steadily.
The same can be said for the reuse of organic waste from its green spaces, canteens and the crèche kitchen.
In 2009, the efforts of various company directors (in partnership with IATA – International Air Transport Association) led to the launch of an ambitious Carbon Offsetting Programme which won TAP the Planet Earth Award 2010, awarded by UNESCO in the category “Most Innovative Sustainable Product”. The programme gives passengers the opportunity to voluntarily offset their CO2 emissions and in 2010 led to the offsetting of 4,278 tons, 22 per cent more than initially expected.
Another campaign front is the reduction of fuel consumption, which is why TAP is continuing to invest in an ever more eco-friendly operation and in the modernization of its fleet. What this means in everyday language is that routes are planned for greatest efficiency and loads carried on board have been reviewed in terms of services and catering; the reduction of 1kg aboard means a reduction in emissions of 8,000 tons of CO2 per year. Since the start of the program in June 2005, some 240,000 fewer tons of carbon dioxide have been emitted.
In addition, in 2009, TAP has added six new Airbus A320s to its medium-range fleet, which are eight percent more energy-efficient than the previous model, thereby reducing fuel consumption by 700 tons a year. The renewal of the long-haul fleet is scheduled from 2014 with new Airbus A350s, whose energy performance is 20 percent more efficient.
All round, says Maria João Calha, “in 2010 TAP achieved a 6.6 percent improvement in its energy-efficiency and environmental performance indicators, compared to 2009”. This is a performance that the TAP environmental coordinator wants to see improved year on year.
Passengers who want to contribute to reducing their ecological footprint while flying have user-friendly methods available at www.flytap.com which enable them to offset their CO2 emissions. Passengers who sign up are thereby voluntarily contributing to projects chosen by TAP in accordance with IATA directives, and complying with strict United Nations quality standards which require investment in developing countries. TAP is currently supporting renewable energy projects in Brazil.
TAP’s environmentally-friendly policies were recently extended to “amenity kits” offered to clients who fly tap|executive. This policy has led to the replacement of most synthetic materials with natural products. Bags, socks, eye-shades and ear protectors are now made from 100% natural or recycled materials, and toiletry/cosmetic products do not contain sulphates, parabens, phthalates and artificial colourings and are never tested on animals. Airsickness bags are now made from biodegradable paper. In economy class for medium and long-haul flights, food containers and tea and coffee cups are now made from biodegradable cardboard and contain non-polluting paint.
Together with the company’s good environmental practice, in September 2010 UP became the first in-flight magazine in the world to offset 100 percent of the carbon emissions involved in its production, in partnership with E.Value. By dedicating an entire issue to Amazonia (April 2010) in which only black, white and yellow (the colour of danger) were used, calling attention to the loss of biodiversity, UP had the honour of being included in the United Nations Museum for the International Year of Biodiversity.
by Patrícia Brito