Efficient Material Use in Our Operations

What works for Southwest can also work for our Planet.

It’s no secret that spending money on resources that will be used inefficiently isn’t a great business practice. We endeavor to continuously improve every aspect of our operational footprint—improving energy efficiency, using resources responsibly, and minimizing the creation of unnecessary waste—a strategy that has helped keep our fares low while delivering value to our Shareholders.

However, improving our footprint isn’t just about dollars and cents. Operational efficiency comes with an important environmental benefit that is close to our Heart. By taking steps to improve our footprint, we can help preserve precious natural resources and protect our Planet for current and future generations.

For example, in June 2019, we eliminated the use of paper ticket jackets from our operations—leading to environmental benefits and cost savings. Originally, these jackets were utilized to disseminate Department of Transportation-required disclosures and other Southwest policy information. Today, we’ve made such information easily accessible in a variety of other places, eliminating the need for printing. Important Customer disclosures are available during the online booking process, in a Customer’s e-ticket confirmation, on, and on signage in the airport gate and baggage claim areas. Getting rid of paper ticket jackets eliminates a paper need equal to more than 2,000 trees each year.

But our efforts aren’t limited to the ground. In 2018, we redesigned the plastic drink stir sticks used onboard our aircraft to reduce the amount of petroleum-derived plastic we use. The stir sticks are now made from PLA (polylactic acid), a plant-derived material. As they are not made from traditional petroleum-based materials, this change helps preserve a non-renewable resource by using renewable material instead. The updated stir sticks are also biodegradable as a result of a PLA bio-additive.

In 2019, we followed the stir stick with another change. As opposed to the legacy plastic straws we previously offered, all of our straws are also now made of PLA. These straws are not part of our normal inflight service and are only provided when asked for, or with child beverages. This helps minimize the total number of straws used during each flight.

While we are proud of the recent changes we’ve made to improve our operational footprint, we are even more excited about what the future holds. Both the updated stir sticks and straws are part of a larger initiative that aims to improve the sustainability of our onboard supplies. Be on the lookout for more onboard improvements coming to a flight in your future.


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