There’s much to like in Virgin Atlantic’s new sustainability report. For starters, Virgin Atlantic’s new software program allows the company to accurately monitor and review its fuel use. It will save the company an estimated £20 million and 92,000 tons of carbon a year. Called the OSyS Fuel Efficiency System, the software went live in July 2012. The software monitors 300 different points every flight to see where fuel can be used more efficiently.
“Fuel use is our number one environmental issue – as well as a significant financial one,” said Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway. “We have worked hard to develop innovative solutions to this matter and this is resulting in major benefits on two fronts as we reduce our carbon footprint and at the same time deliver major cost savings to the airline.”
The report details what Virgin Atlantic is doing to reduce the weight of its aircraft. The company introduced the first four of 10 new airplanes which are nine percent and 15 percent more efficient on a per-seat basis than the models they replaced. The interior of the new airplanes are being fitted with lighter airframe monuments, seats and galleys which reduce overall weight by 1.3 tons per airplane. The company is also reducing the amount of potable water carried on the airplanes by 25 percent which helps reduce weight.
Energy use and waste reduction measures
The report also shows the reductions Virgin Atlantic has made to reduce its energy use and waste. The company’s target to reduce energy use is 10 percent by 2012 and 20 percent by 2021. It has already reduced energy use by 10.85 percent since the 2008/2009 base year. There are several ways that the energy target for 2012 has been met, including changing 138 lights to an LED fitting, which uses 95 percent less energy. Another way is through installing next generation Energy Star-compliant server hardware that is about 30 percent energy efficient.
The target for waste reduction is 50 percent by 2012 from 2008 levels. So far, Virgin Atlantic has reduced waste 29 percent. It will not meet its target by the end of this year, so it set a new target of meeting the goal by 2015. However, the company did recycle 68 percent of its waste in 2011, so it is on track to meet its target of recycling 75 percent of its waste by the end of 2012.
Virgin Atlantic has implemented several initiatives to reduce paper use:
- Changed to coreless toilet rolls, which saves almost 86,000 toilet rolls a year
- Introduced an electronic invoicing system for its 750 suppliers, and so far 38 percent have implemented it. Once all the suppliers make the switch, the new system will save about 66,000 pieces of paper, equivalent of 24 trees.
- Reused 2,071 pieces of stationery
Virgin Atlantic diverted almost 30 tons of food waste from winding up in a landfill in 2011, more than twice the 2010 amount, which saves almost 17 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The food waste goes to a combined heat and power plant, producing enough electricity to power 128 40-watt bulbs for eight hours a day for a year. It also composted 14 tons of green waste in 2011.
If all of that is not enough, Virgin Atlantic is the only aircraft company to make fair trade commitments. That earns the company many kudos from me.