British Airways May Soon Fuel Its Planes With Recycled Cooking Oil

It's one important step the airline is taking for a more sustainable future.

Flying with British Airways could soon get a little more sustainable.

In December, the airline announced it signed a deal with a refinery in the United Kingdom to purchase sustainable aviation fuel, a lower carbon-intensity fuel that can be produced from renewable feedstocks, including waste from vegetable oils, fats, and greases. The deal, the airline shared in a statement, makes it the first airline in the world to use sustainable aviation fuel produced on a commercial scale in the UK.

According to the airline, it aims to hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and the new-age fuel will be a big part of that, along with carbon offsetting. The airline noted, the new fuel will help reduce life cycle CO2 emissions by almost 100,000 tons, or the equivalent of powering 700 net-zero CO2 emissions flights between London and New York on its Boeing 787 aircraft.

"This agreement marks another important step on our journey to net-zero carbon emissions and forms part of our commitment, as part of International Airlines Group, to power 10% of flights with [sustainable aviation fuel] by 2030," Sean Doyle, British Airways' chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. "We are excited to develop our relationship with Phillips 66 Limited further with a view to growing production capacity and using a wider range of sustainable waste feedstocks to supply our future flights. The development of sustainable aviation fuel is a major focus for us and forms part of our commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 through a series of short-, medium- and long-term initiatives."

While this is certainly a massive step forward, sustainable fuels have a long way to go until they are a viable financial option for all airlines, and that journey will likely begin with regulations and tax incentives for more airlines to get on board.

"Right now, the cost of sustainable aviation fuel on its own without any incentives...would cost maybe four or five times that of existing petroleum fuels and that's not sustainable for the industry," Valerie Reed, the acting director of the bioenergy technologies office at the Department of Energy's Office of energy efficiency and renewable energy, told Aviation Today. Reed added, "I would say that we have a full approach looking between now, 2030 and 2050 when we really need to meet President Biden's aggressive decarbonization goals, and we believe we can fully decarbonize the aviation sector in that timeframe. Sustainable aviation fuel plays a very important role in that, it's not the only technology that's working to decarbonize aviation, but it is a critical technology."

Ready to learn more about how your travels can be a little more eco-friendly today and in the future? See more stories of green travel here.

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