Sustainable products and materials management

in Our environment

United continues to expand its partnerships with sustainable suppliers to ensure we reduce our waste footprint as much as possible.

In 2018, we 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 part of a larger initiative we are taking to ensure the things we use and serve onboard every day are environmentally friendly. Another includes introducing more sustainable packaging for our illy coffee, of which we use 1.7 million pounds of each year.

Through our Flight for the Planet, the most eco-friendly commercial flight of its kind in the history of aviation, we tested 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 serviceware and swapped plastic lids for beeswax food wrappers. We also removed the paper wrapping from silverware roll-ups.

We continue to partner with Clean the World, an organization that works to prevent millions of hygiene-related deaths every year. As of the end of 2020, United employees have collected more than 175,000 pounds of unused items from our amenity kits since 2016. Clean the World redistributes the kits to those in need, reducing the morbidity rate of hygiene-related illnesses and encouraging vigorous child development.

Learn more about sustainable products and materials management.

Recent stories about sustainable products and materials management

Eco-Skies upcycle travel bags for a cause (October 31, 2017)

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)