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United Airlines Utilizes Biotechnology for Most Eco-Friendly Commercial Flight of its Kind

Josh Falzone
June 14, 2019

Last week on World Environment Day, United Airlines’ made history with the most eco-friendly commercial flight of its kind in the history of aviation. And to achieve this goal, the flight utilized biotechnology.

The flight, deemed “Flight for the Planet,” traveled from Chicago O’Hare to Los Angeles and utilized sustainable aviation biofuel, zero cabin waste efforts with bio-based products, carbon offsetting, and operational efficiencies.

"The historic Flight for the Planet showcases United's philosophy of working together to find new and innovative ways to lead us into a more sustainable future," said Scott Kirby, United's president. "As an airline, we see our environment from a unique perspective every day and we know we must do our part to protect our planet and our skies."

The Flight for the Planet used a 30/70 blend of low-carbon, sustainable aviation fuel. In the cabin, the flight swapped out plastic and paper wrapping with environmentally friendly bio-based products—like beeswax food wrappers and bamboo stirring sticks.

Biotechnology Innovation Organization President and CEO congratulated United’s Flight for the Planet and pointed to it as an example of how biotechnology is creating a healthier world.

“United’s Flight for the Planet is a perfect example of how industrial biotechnology is reducing society’s carbon footprint and paving the way for sustainable travel. Biology-driven innovations—such as biofuels and bio-based products—are helping preserve our planet, and it’s exciting to see global companies, like United, and consumers embracing these environmentally friendly advancements. We congratulate United on this historic aviation milestone and its commitment to growing the worldwide bio-based economy. BIO supports these efforts and will continue to champion policies that make the promises of biotechnology a reality.”

Biofuels are playing a significant role in reducing harmful pollution, particularly in the sector that emits the most greenhouse gases—transportation. And for an industry that can’t rely on electricity to keep it moving, biofuel innovation will be critical in reducing aviation’s carbon footprint. American researchers are also using feedstocks—like algae, waste, and other types of biomass—to convert into cleaner fuels for use in the sky and on our nation’s roadways.

Looking forward, if companies and individuals embrace innovation in biofuels and bio-based products, we will have the ability to mitigate climate change, improve our air and water quality, reduce our reliance on plastic, and much more.

To learn more about United’s Flight for the Planet and its use of biotechnology, click here or watch the video below.