Our Approach

Our centennial in 2016 marked 100 years of innovation in products and services that helped transform aviation and the world. The same dedication is bringing ongoing innovation in more efficient, cleaner products and operations for our employees, customers and communities around the globe.

Our strategy and actions reflect goals and priorities that address the most critical environmental challenges facing our company, customers and industry.

We’re reducing waste and water use in our facilities, even as we see our business growing. In addition, we’re finding alternatives to chemicals and hazardous materials in our products and operations, and leading the global development of sustainable aviation fuels.

Meeting climate change and other challenges head-on requires a global approach. Boeing works closely with government agencies, customers, stakeholders and research facilities worldwide to develop solutions that help protect the environment.

Our commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable future drives action at every level of the company. Every day, thousands of Boeing employees lead activities and projects that advance progress in reducing emissions and conserving water and resources.

In the face of rapidly changing business and environmental landscapes, Boeing is pursuing the innovation and leadership that will build a brighter, more sustainable future for our employees, customers, communities and industry.

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Global Aviation Commitments

Aviation brings together people, countries and cultures. The air transport industry supports an estimated 63 million jobs and accounts for about 3.5 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

Boeing is committed to a healthy environment. The aerospace industry continually adapts to dynamic and changing market forces. Achieving our goals means collaborating as an industry on the issues that face us today, for a more sustainable future.

Aerospace in general, and commercial aviation in particular, is a highly regulated industry, and environmental regulations are part of that. The number of regulations and environmental concerns affecting our industry is increasing and includes many factors, including emissions, noise, water quality, waste and energy.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, aviation contributes approximately 2 percent of global CO2 emissions. The industry has established a global sectoral approach to controlling these emissions and a set of goals aligned across the industry.

The aviation industry’s business goals of providing safe, cost-efficient travel and environmental goals of reducing CO2 emissions are both solved by constantly improving airplane fuel efficiency. Reducing emissions is aligned to our customers’ strategic desire to decrease fuel use, a major cost and priority in their purchasing decisions.

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2016 Goals & Progesss

Boeing’s commitment to global environmental leadership is focused on key goals and targets. These goals reflect the three tenets of our environmental strategy (Inspire Global Collaboration, Design in Environmental Performance and Innovate for Sustainable Operations), and support our core beliefs:

  • Partnering with community, customers and employees to advance our environmental goals.
  • Improving the environmental performance of Boeing products to benefit our customers, our company, our employees and our planet.
  • Reducing the environmental impact of Boeing operations and facilities to benefit local communities.

Below is a summary of progress made to specific performance goals and targets in 2016. Click on a goal below for more details.

Inspire Global Collaboration

Test and demonstrate advanced, environmentally cleaner technologies

To speed up development of new technologies that enhance safety and reduce fuel use, emissions and noise, Boeing has completed four ecoDemonstrator flight-test programs in the past five years. The programs tested some 60 technologies using a 737 (2012), 787 Dreamliner (2014), 757 (2015) and an Embraer E170 regional jet (2016, and the first such collaboration between two airplane manufacturers). Boeing and Embraer tested several technologies, including:

  • Enhancing safety and efficiency—An optical air data system called LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, can potentially save weight and drag and provide a backup source for pitot tubes. These tubes protrude from the fuselage and measure air speed, atmospheric pressure, external temperature and other parameters.
  • Reducing noise—A new design for leading-edge slats on the front of the airplane’s wings reduced unsteady airflows, which lowers the noise level as the airplane is on approach.
  • Ice-phobic paint—A new “ice-phobic” paint was shown to improve the airplane’s ability to shed ice and would also require less washing.
  • Lowering emissions—A 10 percent biofuel blend made from Brazilian sugar cane was used during all test flights. Scientific studies have shown that biofuels reduce life-cycle emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared with fossil fuel.

Boeing is now planning for its 2018 ecoDemonstrator program, which will use a 777 for flight testing focused on a new lightweight compact thrust reverser and flight operations automation.

Support the development of a sustainable aviation fuel market

Boeing continues to be a leader in the aviation industry for developing and commercializing sustainable aviation fuels, which represent aviation’s greatest opportunity to reduce carbon emissions, meet the industry’s environmental goals and support long-term sustainable growth.

Substantial progress has been made on dozens of collaborative projects around the world with near- and longterm potential to deliver sustainable aviation fuel to airline customers. For example, in South Africa, Boeing partnered with South African Airways and low-cost carrier Mango to fly Africa’s first flights powered by a 30 percent blend of biofuel produced from solaris, a nicotine-free tobacco plant grown by farmers in Limpopo Province, South Africa.

In the United States, Boeing supported the Port of Seattle and Alaska Airlines on a study that found the best initial solution to provide biofuel to every departure at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is a small, on-site receiving and blending facility.

In the coming years, we will accelerate our investment in the development of sustainable biofuels.

Support a global industrywide approach for aviation carbon dioxide emissions

Through collaboration with global stakeholders over several years, Boeing supported development and adoption of two complementary global carbon emission–reduction measures agreed to in 2016 by ICAO.

All new commercial aircraft types will be required to meet ICAO's fuel efficiency standards as they are implemented by member nations over the next several years. Our new commercial airplanes have been designed to meet and exceed the challenging requirements.

Airlines flying between participating nations will begin adopting a market-based carbon-offset program known as CORSIA. So far, 65 nations have committed to participate, which represents more than 80 percent of the growth in emissions from international aviation after 2020. Offset credits purchased through the program, which will be assessed to ensure they meet stringent environmental integrity criteria, will finance projects to reduce CO2 emissions, many in developing countries.

Invest in organizations/projects that will benefit the environment globally and locally

Boeing has strong partnerships with community environmental leaders who help us ensure that projects support economic, social and environmental progress.

In 2016, Boeing committed further resources to help The Nature Conservancy (TNC) scale the land management community work they conduct in Indonesia for Brazil and Mexico. In addition, Boeing partners with TNC on domestic projects in Washington, Arizona, Missouri and South Carolina to help communities develop plans and models to improve the health and security of their water resources. The support from Boeing and other organizations is helping communities across the globe manage more than 6.5 million acres (2.6 million hectares) of land.

Additionally, we are working with experts in Puget Sound to test green infrastructure solutions to mitigate pollution from storm water runoff and improve overall water quality.


Design in Environmental Performance

Reduce the environmental footprint of Boeing products through the life cycle

In 2016, development of new, more efficient Boeing airplanes continued on schedule:

  • Completed flight test and certification program of the 737 MAX. The new aircraft, which includes a new winglet tested on the ecoDemonstrator, will be 20 percent more fuel efficient and have a 40 percent smaller noise footprint than the original Next- Generation 737.
  • The first 787-10 entered final assembly. This airplane will achieve approximately 25 percent better fuel efficiency than the airplanes it replaces.
  • We opened the 777X Composite Wing Center and completed the first wing panel prototype. The 777X achieves 10 percent lower fuel consumption than its closest competitor, 15 decibel noise levels within Stage 4 margins, 29 percent emissions within CAEP/8 margin and an enhanced cabin environment.

Improve operational efficiency across Boeing products and services

We continue to make progress in reducing both emissions and noise through better flight operations. Boeing is implementing new airport arrival and departure procedures in several European and Asian countries that reduce miles flown and emissions.

In 2016, we also conducted demonstrations with Delta and United Airlines during multiple arrivals to San Francisco Airport highlighting the use of airplane technology, such as the Global Navigation Satellite System for landing (GLS). GLS integrates satellite and ground-based navigation data to provide the position information required for approach and landing guidance. This system significantly improves takeoff and landing capability at airports at lower cost, emissions and noise levels. The success of this demonstration enabled the airport to begin the process of installing the ground system for improved all-weather access to all runways and reduced environmental impacts.

Ensure that all Boeing products comply with chemical restrictions and bans

We are continuing to monitor and assess global chemical regulations for potential impact to Boeing products. An example is complying with Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations in the European Union (EU). We are coordinating with our research and technology organization and across our supply chain for safe and sustainable alternatives to substances targeted for restrictions or bans. Where alternatives do not exist, we are continuing our research while communicating with regulatory agencies or applying for and supporting authorization for continued use until alternatives can be identified, rigorously evaluated for compliance with performance and safety requirements, and implemented.

Boeing will continue to speed development and implementation of viable and environmentally responsible chemical alternatives.

We also work with the aerospace industry through the International Aerospace Environmental Group (IAEG) to advance development of the Aerospace and Defense Declarable Substance List (AD-DSL) and the associated Materials Declaration Standard for Aerospace and Defense (IPC-1754) for supplier reporting. These resources enable our suppliers to report chemical content of supplier-designed parts more efficiently and help ensure our compliance with global chemical regulations.

Internally, Boeing is implementing tools and processes, such as the Chemical Hazard Assessment, to enable engineers and technologists to compare hazards between alternative materials and select environmentally preferred solutions that meet design and performance requirements.


Innovate for Sustainable Operations

Protect human health and the environment by cleaning and restoring locations affected by past practices

We made significant progress in 2016 on our inventory of 65 remediation sites, including advancing six projects—in Renton, Auburn and Everett, Washington; Santa Susana and Long Beach, California; and Pools Prairie, Missouri—by achieving key regulatory milestones. In addition, we furthered our site restoration goals by renewing or initiating habitat certifications at four sites, including the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in California, Plant 2 in Washington, and the Emery landfill and Chemical Commodities Inc. (CCI) projects in Kansas.

In June 2016, Boeing and other members of the Plant 2 Sediment Remediation and Urban Waterway Restoration project team accepted the World Organization of Dredging Associations’ Environmental Excellence Award for Environmental Dredging for our Plant 2 dredging and habitat project.

Maintain 2012 levels for greenhouse gas emissions, water intake, solid waste to landfill and hazardous waste

In 2016, we out-performed our plan to be at or below the 2012 baseline for all of the metrics we track, even as we increase commercial airplane production. (Note: Hazardous waste generation targets are on a revenue adjusted basis.) Boeing continues to focus on reducing the waste it sends to landfills by improving production processes to reduce the amount of material used, researching waste recycling methods and markets for excess carbon fiber, as well as continuing to expand our enhanced recycling program.

We are currently developing our next set of targets for 2018 to 2025.

2016 Performance

Boeing is improving the environmental footprint of our diverse operations. We are on target to outperform our goal of zero growth in our four key indicators from our 2012 baseline through 2017.

Boeing generated fewer greenhouse gas emissions, used less water, sent less solid waste to landfills and generated less hazardous waste— all reduced from 4 to 19 percent in 2016 compared to the baseline set in 2012, even with strong growth in production.

This year’s Environment Report also reflects the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2016 recalculation of the National eGRID emissions factors, which represent the emissions footprint of all electric power sources. The EPA biannually recalculates the data and applies the results to the previous three years. A significant increase in the emission factor was identified for the Northwest Region, due primarily to an increase of coal-derived electricity generated to meet the increase in demand for the growth in the region. This resulted in Boeing’s recalculation of 2014 and 2015 data, which caused an increase of the emissions previously calculated and reported for those years. Despite this change, we remain on track to exceed all goals.

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In 2016, Boeing completed a comprehensive third-party review and assessment of the company’s most significant environmental priorities. The analysis included direct input and perspectives from diverse stakeholders—such as customers, environment-focused non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the company’s global leadership—as well as research into industrial best practices and community requirements.

The assessment analyzed diverse viewpoints and organized environmental priorities by order of importance and influence on business strategy, as identified by Boeing and its external stakeholders. The topics relate to products, operations and a variety of other issues. Several topics were identified as highest importance and largest influence on business strategy by both Boeing and our external stakeholders, including product greenhouse gas emissions (fuel efficiency, operational efficiency, sustainable aviation fuel), operations greenhouse gas emissions (energy conservation), operations water management and operations solid waste management and landfill.

Boeing named additional priorities, including managing hazardous materials in our operations and products and managing chemicals in our aircraft and production; as well as opportunities, like pursuing innovations in environmentally progressive buildings. External stakeholders added supply chain practices and reporting and product noise as high environmental priorities.

It's important to note that while topics are ranked, we are currently addressing all identified priorities in our global environmental strategy.