At Airbus, our approach to environmental responsibility starts at the design stage. We select the right materials and use them efficiently during production. After aircraft delivery, we continue to take into account the environment by optimising aircraft operations and recycling end-of-life aircraft.
Environmental responsibility across the entire lifecycle
An aircraft has an average lifespan of approximately 30 years before retiring from service. We believe in managing our products' environmental footprint across the entire lifecycle—even after they leave the final assembly line.
- Design: We significantly invest in R&D to design fuel-efficient aircraft that achieve better environmental performance, including reduced NOx and CO2 emissions.
- Production & manufacturing: We use the environmental management system ISO 14001 to manage the footprint of our industrial operations.
- Sustainable supply chain: We work closely with our suppliers to select materials that are sourced ethically and responsibly with minimal impact on the environment.
- Operations: We develop sustainable fuels and air traffic management solutions to achieve optimal fuel savings throughout our aircraft’s entire service lifespan.
- End-of-life recycling: We dismantle our aircraft in a manner that maximises reuse and recycling, and focuses on the safe disposal of non-recyclable parts.
Designing quieter & fuel-efficient aircraft
Today, aircraft emit 80% fewer CO2 emissions per seat kilometre than they did 50 years ago. They are also 75% quieter. We invest in R&D to take aircraft performance in fuel efficiency and noise reduction to the next level. We also gain valuable data from our end-of-life management processes and integrate these findings back into the design.
Our latest-generation aircraft
Made from 53% lightweight composite material, the A350 XWB emits 25% fewer CO2 emissions than the previous generation aircraft.
This latest addition to the A320 Family offers 15% fuel-burn savings compared to current single-aisle aircraft operations and emits 20% fewer CO2 emissions.
The most efficient aircraft in its class, the A220 also has the lowest noise levels of any commercial jet in production.
This versatile and efficient aircraft emits 14% fewer CO2 emissions than its predecessor. Its NOx emissions are 27% below the industry standard.
The world’s largest and most spacious aircraft burns 40% less fuel than its nearest competitor, with noise levels below the industry certification standard.
Reducing our manufacturing footprint at sites worldwide
A significant portion of our manufacturing footprint comes from the energy and resources required for our industrial practices. Today, approximately 85% of our 130,000 employees work under ISO 14001, which defines rigorous criteria for managing environmental responsibility. To optimise our environmental performance, we focus on four key areas:
- Energy & CO2: Many of our manufacturing sites have achieved improved environmental performance. This is largely due to the installation of a variety of new technologies and systems, such as air-source heat pumps, solar panels, low-energy lighting, and more.
- Water: To limit our water consumption, we focus on increasing water recycling and reuse in our industrial practices. We also measure and automate leakage detection, and prevent chemical pollution of water by progressively replacing substances of concern.
- Air: Between 2006 and 2017, our VOC emissions (volatile organic compounds) fell by 60%. By using electrostatic paint guns, we reduce mist during painting, and pre-impregnated wipes have replaced solvents to clean painting equipment.
- Waste: Between 2006 and 2017, we reduced our non-recyclable waste by 42% in our industrial practices. This was achieved by restricting incineration to non-recyclable waste, diverting materials from the landfill to recycling centres and reducing overall material use.
Optimising fuel efficiency during operations
Developing fuel-efficient aircraft does not end at the design stage. All in-service aircraft can continue to improve their fuel burn thanks to a number of innovative options and services.
- Sustainable fuels: Airbus was the first manufacturer to offer customers the option of delivering new aircraft that use a blend of sustainable fuel. Multiple airline customers have benefited from this programme, developed in association with Air Total. We are also heavily involved in the Initiative Towards Sustainable Kerosene For Aviation also called the ITAKA European initiative, which aims to speed up the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel in Europe.
- Air traffic management: Direct routings can result in approximately 10% less fuel consumption in aircraft, as well as significantly reduced CO2 and noise emissions. This is why we develop modern air traffic management systems in collaboration with our subsidiary Airbus NavBlue and work closely with a range of partners to further optimise in-flight operational efficiency.
Recycling or reusing up to 90% of our aircraft
Within the next 20 years, more than 12,000 aircraft are expected to retire from operations. If not properly recycled, these end-of-life aircraft will contribute to a lot of waste in our landfills.
In 2005, we were proud to be the first manufacturer to undertake a voluntary approach to aircraft decommissioning and aircraft recycling. Today, Airbus and Tarmac Aerosave have established a proven method for decommissioning, dismantling and recycling the entire Airbus aircraft product range in an environmentally responsible way—with up to 90% of aircraft eligible for reuse or recycling. For non-recyclable parts, we focus on safe disposal.
Since 2007, the project has achieved the following results:
- 517 aircraft stored
- 117 aircraft recycled
- 92% reuse of remaining parts
- 100 engines recycled