Alaska Airlines Swaps Paper for Rock (for Your Safety!)
In a parallel universe where rock beats paper in a game of rock, paper, scissors, Alaska Airlines replaces all of their paper safety cards on board with… stone?
Yes, you read that right. Stone. And yes, I had that same face you’re making right now when I saw it printed on the cards themselves.
This card is made from eco-friendly reclaimed stone. No trees, water or hazardous chemicals were used in production.
Now, I’ve given Alaska (and other airlines) crap for the incredibly wasteful nature of how they run operations. The idea of making me throw away my plastic cup instead of refilling it used to drive me me insane. They have replaced this policy as of this year, although I find it somewhat inconsistently followed. Since we fly first almost exclusively, I haven’t had to deal with that because they have real glass and china plates (hear that, economy?). It still drives me insane when they waste all their salt and pepper paper blisters by giving them out for the fruit plate breakfast option, especially since I learned from several flight attendants that they’re supposed to reclaim the unused ones.
Alaska Airlines went strawless in May when they committed to replace single use, non-recyclable, plastic straws, stirrers and picks onboard their planes. This applies to both domestic and international routes and has been in effect since July 16th 2018. This is one of their efforts to achieve a goal of reducing landfill waste per passenger by 70% by 2020.
But now, in a move that surprises me mostly because I have never in my life heard of stone paper, Alaska has made good on their promise to go even greener. All of their onboard menus, safety cards, entertainment, credit card and mileage information have been consolidated into just two cards. The Take Care card replaces the previous safety cards. The Sip Savor Repeat card includes everything else. They are both printed on this incredibly lightweight, glossy, seemingly durable material made of stone.
Our objective is to be one of the most respected U.S. airlines by our customers, employees, and shareholders. We believe our success depends on our ability to provide safe air transportation, develop relationships with customers by providing exceptional customer service and low fares, and maintain a competitive cost structure to compete effectively. It is important to us that we achieve our objective as a socially responsible company that values not just our performance, but also our people, our community, and our environment.
I did some reading on stone paper and they’re apparently extremely durable, they’re tear resistant as well as completely waterproof. Its main ingredient is calcium carbonate, which is the same thing eggshells and seashells are made of. It is a superior material for paper not just in its durability, but also in that it does not consume as many resources as pulp based paper when turned into paper sheets. It requires no trees be cut down, no water is wasted since it does not involve any pulp, and it does not require the use of chlorine and acids in order to make the paper white.
Eighty percent of this innovative paper is made of calcium carbonate, and the remaining twenty is a synthetic plastic. And although it is recyclable because of its plastic content it is not at all compostable unless your city has special processes to degrade these materials. This plastic ingredient is unfortunately necessary as it is what binds the calcium carbonate and makes it foldable like regular paper.
This material is also photodegradable, which means it takes between 14 to 18 months to degrade when exposed to sunlight. Not sure if this also applies to the plastic portion of this paper, but it begs the question of really how durable Alaska’s safety cards will be since they’re somewhat exposed to sunlight while in planes.
I’m all for Alaska and anyone else going green as much as they can, and I’m certainly intrigued by this innovative material being introduced to the aviation industry and I’m looking forward to seeing it in other places as well.