The oldest airline in the world, KLM, turned 100 years old last week. Rather than celebrate its past, however, the Dutch airline doubled-down on its commitment to making the airline industry cleaner and smarter.
The airline is already known for using biofuel as a greener alternative to kerosene-baed fuels, reducing its carbon emissions by up to 85 percent since it started the practice in 2011. To expand its use of biofuels, KLM is in the process of building the world’s largest biofuel plant in the Netherlands. KLM also has a working carbon-offset program called CO2ZERO, which allowed 90,000 passengers in 2018 alone to compensate for their impact—about 40,000 tons of CO2—by supporting reforestation initiatives in Panama.
Meanwhile, on the airplane itself, the company hopes that by producing less waste through the use of more recyclable elements in catering and repurposing materials, like old uniforms, to generate limited-edition products or refurbish areas of the aircraft, it will reach its goal of reducing residual waste by 50% by 2030. Much of the airline’s plastic byproducts have been recycled and reused for 3D printing materials, such as tools for aircraft maintenance.
Still, KLM recognizes these significant efforts aren’t enough, considering the urgency of the climate crisis. For that reason, KLM is attempting to reinvent the airplane with the help of TU Delft, a world-renowned technical university. Together, they are creating a Flying-V, an aerodynamic, fuel-efficient concept, that would integrate passenger seats and cargo into the wings of the plane and use 20% less fuel than a current Airbus A350.