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Japan Airlines and AirTran in a thirst for first as they launch wine and water PET recycling projects

Japan Airlines and AirTran in a thirst for first as they launch wine and water PET recycling projects | AirTran Airways, Japan Airlines
Tue 4 Aug 2009 – Japan Airlines and US low-cost airline AirTran Airways are to serve passengers with drinks supplied in recyclable PET plastic bottles. JAL becomes the first Asian carrier to serve wine in PET bottles onboard its economy class cabin on a flight from Tokyo to London this week and will be gradually introduced on all international routes. The introduction coincides with the inauguration of a second JAL Eco Jet, a Boeing 777-300ER, which will fly today from Tokyo to Singapore. AirTran will become the first North American carrier to make available, at a cost of $2 each, bottles of Icelandic Glacial Natural Spring Water, the world’s first CarbonNeutral-certified bottled spring water.
 
JAL’s wine, Baron Maxime produced in France and Spain, is bottled in recyclable PET bottles that look identical to the original glass packaging, except at 22 grams each are one-seventh the weight of similar-sized glass bottles. The airline says the switch can help reduce the overall weight of the aircraft, thereby reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, without compromising on the integrity and flavour of the wine.
 
For those more interested in the contents than the bottle, Baron Maxime is jointly produced by Wine Tree of southern France and Paul Sapin, a company specializing in French wine and advanced wine bottling technology. The white wine is made from 100% native Spanish Arién grapes while the red is made from 100% French-grown merlot grapes – both of which “are highly fragrant with a fresh and fruity taste”.
 
JAL introduced its first Eco Jet on its domestic network in June 2008 to enhance public awareness about the environment and global warming. The second Eco Jet will carry on its fuselage, like the first, a 2-metre high by 7-metre wide green origami paper plane motif accompanied by the words ‘Sky Eco’ in both Japanese and English. The conventional livery has been modified by changing the colour of the ‘arc of the sun’ design on its tailfin from red to green.
 
JAL plans to operate this second Eco Jet on international routes connecting Tokyo to destinations such as London, Paris, Frankfurt and Seoul, while the first Eco Jet continues to serve on primarily domestic routes.
 
Whilst Icelandic Glacial Water is making its North American debut on AirTran, it is already available on a number of airlines elsewhere, including Icelandair and also private business jet operator Netjets Europe.
 
“AirTran Airways is an innovative airline, and we are proud to be the first airline in North America to board Icelandic Glacial Natural Spring Water for sale to our customers who have asked us for bottled water options,” said Tad Hutcheson, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for AirTran Airways. “The unique packaging coupled with the exceptional taste of the Icelandic Glacial water and the environmentally responsible product will be a hit with our customers.”
 
Served in fully recyclable PET bottles, Icelandic Glacial has won a number of honours, including the ‘Best Sustainability Initiative’ at the 2007 Bottled Water World awards. The company utilizes natural green energy sources, using only geothermal and hydroelectric power to fuel production. The source of the water is the Olfus Spring, a naturally replenished catchment zone formed during a massive volcanic eruption more than 4,500 years ago.
 
According to Wikipedia, approximately 1.5 million tons of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) are collected worldwide per year. In Europe alone, 1.13 million tonnes of PET bottles were collected in 2007 – more than 40% of all bottles.
 
PET bottles are forwarded to recycling locations where they are run through grinders that reduce them to flake form. The flake then proceeds through a separation and cleaning process that removes all foreign particles such as paper, metal, and other plastic materials.Having been cleaned according to market specifications, the recovered PET is sold to manufacturers who convert it into a variety of products such as carpet fibre, strapping, moulding compounds and non-food containers.
 
 
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