Fueling a Sustainable Airline: Why Delta’s promise to connect the world begins with caring for it


From top executives to frontline employees, Delta people across the system are committed to the communities they serve and the world they live in.

“Being a good corporate citizen is key to the Delta culture, which is why our sustainability efforts are more than just words,” said Gil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer. “Delta is committed to producing significant, measurable results as a part of its industry-leading sustainability strategy to maintain carbon-neutral growth, reduce waste, and engage customers and employees around environmental stewardship.”

Lowering our Carbon Footprint
Delta is committed to and has achieved carbon-neutral growth through carbon offsetting and fuel-saving initiatives for six consecutive years and is aligned with International Air Transport Association goals to improve fuel efficiency, achieve carbon-neutral growth and reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050, compared to 2005.

Delta was the first U.S. airline to offer carbon offsets to customers and is the only major airline to voluntarily cap carbon emissions at 2012 levels by purchasing carbon offsets. Since 2013, Delta has voluntarily purchased over 12 million carbon offsets, which is equivalent to the emissions from 1.7 million cars or electricity use for one year in nearly 2 million homes. This is more than any other U.S. airline.

Customers have the opportunity to offset their own travel as well. When customers pay for carbon offsets on delta.com/co2, they are able to estimate the carbon emissions associated with their travel and offset their environmental impact.

Recycling and Reducing Waste
Delta has recycled more than 4.5 million pounds of aluminum from onboard waste since the program started over 10 years ago. The funds from the onboard recycling program, combined with oil and scrap metal recycling in Delta’s maintenance division, have been used to construct 12 of the 270 homes Delta has built with Habitat for Humanity globally.

Delta is also continuing the removal of a variety of single-use plastic items, including stir sticks, wrappers and straws from its aircraft and Delta Sky Clubs. The ongoing effort is expected to eliminate more than 300,000 pounds in plastic waste annually – that’s more than the weight of two Boeing 757 aircraft.

Engaging Employees and Communities
In 2018, Delta’s sustainability team championed the creation of Green Up, an employee-led business resource group that establishes sustainability ambassadors throughout the company. Green Up connects Delta people who are passionate about the environment to drive change and add business value by finding thoughtful solutions to help Delta be more sustainable. In a little more than 12 months, over 3,000 employees have signed up — including Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian — to lead the sustainability charge at Delta.

In addition to Green Up, Delta’s Green Up Youth Advisory Board, which focuses on engaging young people in the communities that Delta serves to guide the airline’s sustainability initiatives throughout the business. The board is made up of 16 members and includes ecowarrior scholars, environmental club leaders, social impact entrepreneurs and founders of multiple green non-profits.