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BBT Hotlist 2014: CSR

Corporate social responsibility - in all its many forms - has not entirely been forgotten despite the continued focus on cutting the costs of travel

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British Airways
Green Sky London

BA’s flagship environmental project is creating Europe’s first facility that will be able to turn carbon-rich household waste into biofuel for aircraft.

The airline has partnered with green technology firm Solena Fuels Corporation to build the plant on a disused industrial site in Essex, scheduled to open in 2017.

The facility will be able to convert around 500,000 tonnes of waste, which would otherwise be sent to landfill sites, into 50,000 tonnes of low-carbon jet fuel every year.

BA has guaranteed that it will purchase the plant’s total output of biofuel for the first ten years of operation at market prices – worth a total of around US$500 million at today’s fuel prices.

The project, which is costing around £220 million, will also produce 50,000 tonnes of biodiesel per year, as well as 20,000 tonnes of bionaphtha, which can be used to make renewable plastics or blended into other fuels, and 11 megawatts of renewable power which can be fed into the National Grid.

BA and engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce are also working together on an alternative fuels programme, which is in its testing phases. This project has been developed with Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels and the UK’s National Non-Food Crops Centre.

LanzaTech

The biofuels specialist, originally set up in New Zealand in 2005, has patented micro-organism technology to make ethanol from waste carbon monoxide (CO) gases from heavy industrial plants.

The ethanol can then be converted into jet fuel. The firm has teamed up with Virgin Atlantic on a sustainable jet fuel project, which has already won awards for both companies.

The CO gas would otherwise be flared off into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. This ‘gas fermentation’ technology captures, and then ‘recycles’, the waste carbon to create fuel.

Virgin and Lanzatech claim the fuel can be produced at commercially viable cost and scale, and give the example of waste gas from steel mills: they say if the technology were applied to all suitable steel mills worldwide, it could supply 19 per cent of the world’s commercial aviation fuel demand.

Emma Harvey, Virgin Atlantic’s head of sustainability, said: “People often assume that sustainability and aviation are a contradiction in terms, but we’re demonstrating that it is possible to pursue ground-breaking low-carbon solutions for our business, while preserving the significant social and economic benefits that aviation brings.”

Vincent Lebunetel
Senior Director, EMEA, CWT Solutions

TMCs are often accused of being reactive rather than proactive, but as their future and value become increasingly questioned by both buyers and other suppliers, TMCs are stepping up their game – particularly in the growing field of consulting.

A classic example of this is CWT’s Travel Stress Index, a project headed up by Lebunetel. The Stress Index looks at the potential stress caused to a traveller through up to 22 activities associated with a business travel trip, from making the initial booking to getting their trip expenses paid by the employer on their return to the office.

This initiative comes at a time when duty of care and traveller well-being has been rising as one of the main priorities for buyers. CWT has spent 18 months building the tool, which uses data from 15 million transactions to produce an individual travel stress index rating out of 100 for each company, which can then be benchmarked across similar firms within their sector.

The TMC is so proud of the Stress Index, it has applied for a patent for the process.

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