Eurostar turns to phase-outs and recycled content to lower plastics footprint

High-speed rail service Eurostar will phase-out plastic water bottles from its business lounges during 2019, in a move that will reduce the organisation's plastics footprint by more than 100,000 bottles annually.

Recycling rates at St Pancras have increased from 26% the year before to 79%

Recycling rates at St Pancras have increased from 26% the year before to 79%

One year on from the launch of its Tread Lightly sustainability strategy, Eurostar has provided updates against targets to halve the amount of plastics waste it produces and broader energy and carbon goals.

The Tread Lightly commitments focus on minimising waste on board and identifying alternatives to traditional packaging. Not only will Eurostar target a 50% reduction in plastics over the next two years, it will also aim to reduce the usage of paper tickets.

Eurostar has revealed that the phase-out of bottles in its business lounges will save more than 100,000 bottles annually. The organisation is currently exploring permanent solutions that will remove plastics but has taken intermediate steps to use 100% recycled plastics on all food lids. Plastic bottles supplied on board by Radnor are now 100% recyclable and contain more than 50% recycled content.

Eurostar is also working with stations to improve recycling rates. At St Pancras, for example, rates have increased more than three-fold annually, with 79% of waste now recycled – up from 26% the year before.

In addition, Eurostar has seen the amount of paper tickets printed in stations reduced by one-third since the start of 2018. Paper now accounts for just 10% of tickets, with passengers opting for digital versions instead.

Energy performance

The 10-point Tread Lightly plan aims to reduce energy used by trains by 5% by 2020, while reducing traction energy, installing energy metres and delivering energy-efficient driving programmes to drivers.

Having introduced a new route to the Netherlands in April 2018, journeys to Amsterdam are estimated to result in 80% less carbon per passenger than a flight, according to Eurostar calculations. Since launch, almost 250,000 people have travelled on the route, saving more than 13,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

At Eurostar’s Kings Cross headquarters, gas consumption has been reduced by 10%, with 5% decreases also recorded at St Pancras and Ebbsfleet International stations.

Eurostar’s plastics commitment has been uploaded to edie’s Mission Possible Plastics Hub -  a brand-new, content-driven campaign that will support sustainability and resource efficiency professionals on our collective mission to eliminate single-use plastics.

For expert insight in reducing plastics and to explore how companies are delivering on their commitments, visit the Pledge Wall here.

Matt Mace


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