• Greenwashing: Air New Zealand
    Greenwashing: Air New Zealand

In a brazen case of greenwashing, Air New Zealand has removed printed newspapers from its lounges, claiming it is for environmental reasons, while somehow overlooking the reality that its business is dumping 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

The newspapers by contrast are produced from entirely recycled and environmentally friendly products. No trees are used, no solvents emitted, one even uses geothermal steam for its energy.

Airlines are under highlighted environmental pressure, with the term 'flight shame' now in the lexicon, and a move away from air travel being promoted by environmentalists around the world. Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg took the train on her recent campaign around Europe. Environmentalists are eschewing air travel and encouraging the public to do the same. Actress Dame Emma Thompson was vilified as an arch hypocrite for flying from LA to London to take part in an environmental protest.

Air New Zealand's PR stunt is a clear bid to present itself as committed to environmentalism, but its entire business is based on environmental aggravation. It is estimated that airlines contribute two per cent of all global emissions. If global aviation was a country it would be in the top ten emitters.

Sinead Boucher, chief executive of Stuff, which publishes the Dominion Post, Press and Sunday Star Times told her readers, “We are really proud of our sustainability efforts around print. Not a single tree is cut down to make our papers. One hundred per cent of the paper used is made from waste byproduct. Our ink is made from vegetable oil and tree sap which is biodegradable.

“While Air New Zealand obviously has the right to make whatever commercial decisions it sees fit, I must admit we were surprised to hear they were cancelling the newspapers for reasons of sustainability.

“We were also really concerned that the message to their customers in the lounges said the decision was linked to sustainability and that therefore the extrapolation is that our papers must be bad for the environment.”

As well as the Suff (formely Fairfax) papers, Air New Zealand has also removed the New Zealand Herald, whose publisher is similarly perplexed, pointing out that it too is produced from recycled product, and uses geothermal steam for energy.

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