United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL) today announced its enhanced carbon offset program in celebration of Earth Day, providing customers the opportunity to calculate and offset the carbon footprint associated with their air travel and cargo shipments. While United and Continental each had a similar initiative, this new program focuses on offset projects that go beyond climate change and provide social and economic benefits in communities United serves.
“We provide an incredibly efficient service to hundreds of thousands of customers every day and continue to focus on investments in the latest fuel-efficient aircraft, advancement of biofuels and operational improvements,” said Jimmy Samartzis, managing director of global environmental affairs and sustainability for United Airlines. “Our Eco-Skies commitment to the environment drives action today, and our redeveloped carbon offset program now enables customers to contribute to emission-reducing projects in communities we serve.”
After booking a trip with United, customers have the opportunity to visit United’s carbon offset program website to make a contribution to offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with the travel. While calculations are based on a comprehensive carbon footprint of the flight operations, the calculator only assigns the emissions associated with individual passenger travel. Through its partnership with Sustainable Travel International (STI), a non-profit organization, United offers customers a choice of three carbon reduction projects in communities it serves: forest conservation near San Francisco, wind power in Texas, biodiversity preservation in Belize:
Forest Conservation in California – The 23,780-acre Garcia River Forest, located in the Redwood region. The forestland was purchased by The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting America’s most vital landscapes and waterways, and was established as California’s first non-profit working forest.
Renewable Energy in Texas – The Capricorn Ridge Wind farm is located in west central Texas and is comprised of more than 400 wind turbines that are capable of producing enough clean, renewable electricity to power approximately 220,000 homes annually.
Forest and Biodiversity Conservation in Belize – The Boden Creek Ecological Preserve, which environmentalists believe is one of the most-threatened tropical forests in Central America, is made up of 13,600 acres of lowland broadleaf forest. The preserve serves as a critical wildlife corridor that connects diverse inland terrestrial ecosystems with coastal marine ecosystems.
“Our enhanced carbon offset program allows our customers to join us in taking meaningful actions that reduce our impact on the environment,” said Samartzis. “Focusing on the environment is inextricably linked to our business and to our future growth as we continue to make progress in priority areas such as fuel-efficiency and commercialization of sustainable biofuels, and we’re excited to offer customers a way to contribute as well.”
United is committed to the environment through its Eco-Skies program, which is designed to make a positive impact on the environment – in the air, on the ground, at its facilities, with business partners and across communities.
Eco-Skies highlights include:
• United operated the first U.S. passenger biofuel flight powered with a mixture of renewable algae-derived jet fuel and conventional jet fuel, and signed letters of intent to negotiate the purchase of more than 50 million gallons of sustainable biofuels.
• The airline’s investments in modern, fuel-efficient aircraft and equipment have resulted in a 32 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.
• More than 300 aircraft in United’s mainline operations are equipped with winglets that deliver up to a 5 percent reduction in emissions and noise.
• More than 3,600 ground service equipment vehicles, or approximately 26 percent of these vehicles, are electric or alternatively fueled.
• During the last five years, United recycled more than 20 million pounds of cans, paper and plastic items from waste generated inflight and at its facilities.
• Eco-Teams, comprised of cross-divisional representatives, are at every hub and major maintenance facility.
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