Airline upcycles 4 million plastic bottles

AFTER SIX months of research and design, Virgin Atlantic has today revealed amenity kits made of 100% recycled material.


The kits have been designed with sustainability in mind. They’re made from recycled PET (rPET) material which smashes, melts, polymerizes and spins recycled plastic bottles into a workable yarn. Using this technology, the airline estimates almost 4 million bottles a year could be recycled for use in its kits. Because the fabric this method produces uses recycled rather than new materials, it has a 90% lower carbon footprint than nylon.


Virgin Atlantic has been working with a recycling partner to develop one of the most sustainable amenity kits in the sky. Passengers travelling in the Upper Class cabin will be encouraged to take their outbound kit with them after leaving the aircraft as it doubles up as a stylish tablet or e-reader case, while the Premium Economy kit doubles up as a handy travel wallet. But any unused amenity kits will be collected for re-use, while the contents of any that have been opened are recycled by innovative recycling partner MNH Sustainable Cabin Services.


The Virgin Atlantic team worked closely with MNH to ensure the new kits are sustainable and also as recyclable as possible. Last year MNH helped Virgin Atlantic divert nearly 700 tonnes of cabin waste from landfill by reconditioning and recycling a range of items including amenity kits, headsets and pillows.


Using recycled materials in this way is just one part of Virgin Atlantic’s much wider ‘Change is in the Air’ sustainability programme. While as an airline Virgin Atlantic’s main focus is fuel and carbon efficiency, it doesn’t forget the lighter touches such as designing more sustainable materials into its products.


Paul Sands, Head of Product and Service for Virgin Atlantic commented:


“Our passengers love receiving their amenity kits and it’s the little extra touches that make all the difference. At the same time, we are passionate as an airline about making sure everything we do is reviewed through a sustainability lens. These kits not only look great but also have better sustainability profile.”


On the 8th of October FootprintChannel will be broadcasting a live and interactive programme. Innovation in packaging will be part of the content. Register Free