Airlines seek switch to biofuels made of food waste to reduce carbon emissions

Airlines are now feeling more pressure than ever to reduce carbon emissions produced by traditionally fueled flights, so they are getting ready to switch to biofuels to stop the exodus of customers.

As more people become aware of the large carbon footprint of the airlines, an increasing number of them are choosing alternative modes of transportation to get where they want to go.

And that’s a problem for airline executives, who are feeling what is known as “flight shame,” forcing them to finally look at other energy options with a particular interest in biofuels because you can use just about anything organic and it can can handle low temperatures that batteries can’t.

“If we as an industry can provide better, more concrete answers…people will start to feel more comfortable that airlines are serious about this commitment,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes told Reuters.

Experts agree that biofuels will save the industry.

“Biofuels are what’s going to save us when it comes to aviation,” Joint BioEnergy Institute scientist Corinne Scown says. “There just aren’t a lot of other good options.”

That’s because producing biofuels is expensive because there just isn’t enough organic waste being provided for the cause.

But there’s a solution.

According to NBC News:

To solve this problem, biofuel suppliers are starting to make fuel from cheap, abundant organic waste. That could mean waste from farms, such as corn leaves, wheat stalks and almond hulls. Or it could mean trash found in city dumps, such as paper, cardboard and leftover food.

It could even include using dead wood that officials burn to prevent wildfires. What if we could use it to produce biofuels instead? That would help reduce carbon emissions from the airlines and from the controlled burning.

“There are companies that are taking in municipal solid waste, for example, and getting paid to take it in,” National Bioenergy Center chief engineer Jim McMillan said.

United Airlines, in fact, is already working on ways to reduce its carbon footprint. The airline recently conducted a test flight that partly used biofuels and went plastic-free, and it was a complete success that paves the wave for future tests and, eventually, will be the norm for every flight.

“Our vision is that every time you get on a plane that’s fueled with a biofuel, you are not only not emitting fossil carbon, but you are diverting organics from a landfill or helping to avoid unnecessary wildfires,” Scown said. “That’s a few years out, but that’s where I ultimately would like to see us go. And then you hopefully shouldn’t have any plane shame.”

Just imagine landfills being emptied of organic materials for the production of biofuels. That’s the kind of innovation our world desperately needs. Organic waste rots and produces carbon emissions that also pollute the air. Using it for biofuels solves two problems by providing a cleaner fuel resource for planes and reduces the waste that is piling up. Airlines should be further encouraged to make this switch. Let’s just hope they do it sooner rather than later.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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