Feature Story

A "sorted" experience

Boeing is finding new ways to improve its environmental performance while growing business at the same time. Partnering with airline customers is a vital piece of the sustainability effort.

As the sixth largest carrier in the United States, Alaska Airlines uses more than a million gallons of jet fuel every day to operate its all-737 fleet. The airline works closely with Boeing to improve efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.

“Boeing has been very supportive to your airline customers and has helped with policy issues and driving initiatives like biofuels,” said Jacqueline Drumheller, sustainability manager for Alaska Airlines. Drumheller met recently with Boeing employees and spoke about how the Seatac, Wash.-based airline is leading the way in environmental sustainability. “When it comes to things like reducing emissions and conserving fuel, we rely on Boeing to help us with that and collaborate, for example in the arena of Biofuels, we couldn’t do it by ourselves.”

Alaska Airlines recently ordered 37 737 MAX airplanes, which are designed to be 14 percent more efficient than the Next Generation 737.

“Fuel consumption represents anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of our total costs,” Drumheller said. “Even a one or two percent improvement in fuel efficiency is going to save us 10 million gallons over the course of a year which is around $30 to $40 million at today’s prices.”

Alaska is proudly the only U.S.-based carrier to recycle on all of its flights. Some Boeing employees learned about how items are recycled from a flight firsthand when they helped sort items at the LSG Sky Chefs’ facility which processes all of items from Alaska’s flights.  This video shows the sorting in action!

“Sustainability is like safety, every single person at the company has a role to play, depending on where they are at and what their function is,” Drumheller said.

Terry Mutter, director of enterprise strategy for Boeing EHS, visited Alaska Airlines and spoke with employees about how Boeing and its customers are working together on environmental sustainability.

“This is a great partnership with Alaska Airlines, we’ve got a lot of shared interests,” Mutter said. “Their employees are just as engaged as our employees and we’re going to continue to work together to share best practices and improve the environmental performance of both companies.”

Mutter highlighted how Boeing has launched more fuel-efficient airplanes and, in the past five years, increased aircraft deliveries by more than 50 percent while significantly reducing CO2 emissions, energy use, hazardous-waste generation and water consumption. These reductions took place even with Boeing opening a major new manufacturing facility and increasing annual revenues to a record $81.7 billion.

Boeing is committed to being a leader in environmental sustainability through innovation, technology and continued partnerships with customers.