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 – including 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 and 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 support our customers throughout the aircraft’s entire service lifespan by developing sustainable fuels and air traffic management solutions as well as by offering services for fleet optimisation and in-service data analysis.
- 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.
Reducing our manufacturing footprint at sites worldwide
Today, more than 85% of our 130,000 employees work under ISO 14001, which defines strong criteria for managing environmental responsibility. The high5+ programme targets a significant reduction of our environmental footprint in manufacturing activities. It covers the five most material environmental aspects for Airbus. We measure our progress and publish it in the Annual Report.
- CO2: Airbus is committed to contributing to the Paris Agreement targets and leading the decarbonisation of the aviation sector in full collaboration with all stakeholders. We are accelerating our decarbonisation plan by committing to reduce our industrial emissions by up to 63% by 2030 in line with a 1.5°C scenario. The use of sustainable aviation fuel combined with improved efficiency in operations will support this ambition, in addition to:
- Energy: A significant portion of our manufacturing footprint originates from our energy consumption. Today, we are working to increase the share of renewable and low-carbon energy at our sites. Improved monitoring, increased efficiency for lighting, heat and steam, and new constructions in line with certified building standards are additional initiatives currently underway.
- Water: To limit our water consumption, we focus on increasing water recycling and reuse in our industrial practises. Increased measuring and monitoring is not only key to raising awareness, but also to finding reduction potentials and detecting leaks.
- Air emissions: Air emissions, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are mainly related to surface cleaning, or treatment and paint. Even with delivery rates increasing, we aim to maintain 2015 levels.
- Waste: New ambitions as part of the high5+ programme have been set for waste management for 2030. These include reducing the amount of produced waste by 20%, diverting waste from landfilling and avoiding incineration without energy recovery.
Optimising fuel efficiency during operations
Accelerating high-potential pathways through impactful partnerships
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
Reducing emissions by changing the way we fly
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 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. We are able to recycle 92% of an aircraft's total weight.
Where there are parts that we cannot recycle, our focus is on safe disposal of this waste.