Sustainable products and materials management

in Our environment

United continues to expand its partnership with sustainable suppliers to ensure we reduce and reuse as much as we can and recycle whenever possible.

In 2018, United launched our Shedd the Straw program to eliminate all non-recyclable plastic stirring sticks and cocktail picks on our aircraft and replaced them with an environmentally-friendly alternative made out of bamboo. The elimination of plastic stirring sticks and cocktail picks is just one part of a larger initiative we're taking here at United. We also make sure that the things we use and serve on board every day are as environmentally friendly as possible. A great example includes exclusive, more sustainable packaging for our illy coffee, which is important given that we use 1.7 million pounds of coffee each year.

In 2019, we also announced Sunday Riley as our new signature skincare partner and introduced new amenity kits that are sealed with kimble tags, which helps us reduce the amount of plastic used to seal each amenity kit given to customers. This change in packaging will help us reduce our plastic waste by 22,980 pounds each year.

Through our Flight for the Planet, the most eco-friendly commercial flight of its kind in the history of aviation, we tested out even more recyclable and compostable materials in an effort to remove as much waste as possible from our supply chain.

In the Economy cabin, United swapped traditional snack options with a complimentary plated service featuring fully recyclable or compostable serviceware, including a test of an industry-first, recyclable-paper, hot beverage cup. In the premium cabin, United continued to use reusable service ware and swapped plastic lids for beeswax food wrappers. The airline also removed the paper wrapping from silverware roll-ups.

United continues to partner with Clean the World, an organization that works to prevent millions of hygiene-related deaths every year. Since our work together began, United employees have collected more than 175,000 pounds [176,108 pounds] of unused items from our amenity kits since 2016. Clean the World redistributes them to those in need, reducing the morbidity rate of hygiene-related illnesses and encouraging vigorous child development.

Our aspirational goal is to become the world’s most environmentally conscious airline. And that means we will be looking for and finding even more new ways to fly sustainably and operate as efficiently as we can.

Learn more about sustainable products and materials management.

Recent stories about sustainable products and materials management

Percolating peace through illy's Colombian coffee farms (April 30, 2018)

Big Metal Bird: Something to drink? Illy and wine partners (April 30, 2018)

United Airlines Becomes First Carrier to Receive Audubon International's Green Hospitality Award (June 12, 2018)

United customers can help us clean the world (October 23, 2018)

United Airlines Makes History Flying the Most Eco-Friendly Commercial Flight of its Kind (June 5, 2019)