Updated January 2010
Delta Air Lines has made the preservation of the environment a critical part of its business strategy. The company strives to be a leader in reducing its impact to the environment and has identified, developed and utilized cutting-edge technologies to reduce emissions and conserve fuel and other natural resources. Delta’s environmental efforts have been industry-leading over the last 10 years, but there remain many challenges ahead. Delta is committed to dedicating resources and investing in global environmental efforts to be a leader in the years to come.
Greenhouse Gas (CO2) Emissions
Delta has reduced its CO2 emissions by 30 percent since 2000 through fleet renewal, aircraft retirements and the replacement of older ground-handling equipment.
Fleet renewal: More than 99 percent of an airline’s emissions result from jet fuel combustion. Delta operates one of the youngest fleets in the world. Delta’s fleet is 35 percent more fuel efficient than the older aircraft it has replaced.
Ground handling equipment: Delta has deployed more than 1,200 electric ground service vehicles – all with zero emissions – to reduce pollution and lower the overall carbon footprint.
Carbon Offset Initiatives
More than 277,000 trees have been planted by the Conservation Fund and Nature Conservancy since 2007 -- thanks to the carbon offset contribution of Delta and its customers. These trees trap tons of carbon dioxide over their lifetime.
Delta is a leader in fuel conservation, having improved fuel efficiency by 35 percent since 2000 and 10 percent since 2005.
In 2008, Delta used 1.4 billion fewer gallons of fuel than in 2000, the equivalent of taking more than 2.5 million passenger cars off of the road for a year.
Delta’s fuel-efficient fleet performs at 55 passenger-miles per gallon, the same as a hybrid car with one person.
As an active member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Environmental Committee, Delta has already met IATA’s goal of improving fuel efficiency by 10 percent by 2010 and is already hard at work to meet the IATA industry-wide goal to be 25 percent more fuel efficient by 2020.
Delta uses high-speed towbarless tractors at 10 airports in nine cities to move aircraft between hangars and gates, saving more than 7 million gallons of fuel per year.
Motorless carts are stationed at gates to transfer fuel from the underground hydrant system to the aircraft, saving approximately 250,000 gallons of fuel per year as well as reducing travel delays and creating a safer work area.
Delta is replacing its cargo containers with new lighter models, which will save more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel per year.
Fuel-efficient fleet examples include:
Delta's trans-Atlantic A330s carry 25 more passengers than a DC-10 but consume 13,000 fewer gallons of fuel per flight.
Delta Connection's new 76-seat CRJ900 and Embraer 175 aircraft are 20 percent more fuel efficient than the similarly sized DC-9.
Since 2003, Delta has operated a fleet of nearly 150 Airbus 319s and 320s that are 25 percent more efficient than the DC-9s and 727-200s they replaced.
Modifying 757 center wing tanks to safely eliminate the need for 1,000 pounds of fuel, a savings of 1 million gallons of fuel annually.
Installing winglets on 737s, 757s, and 767s improves fuel efficiency by 3-4 percent.
Fuel-saving procedures include:
Single-engine taxi procedure saves more than 7 million gallons of fuel per year.
Adjusting the amount of water boarded for each flight to anticipated usage reduces weight, which results in fuel savings and fewer emissions.
Replacing heavy meal carts with lightweight meal carts saves 2.2 million gallons of fuel annually.
More efficient flight planning, dispatch procedures, flight ops procedures and ATC initiatives results in savings of approximately 70 million gallons every year.
Delta is committed to reducing water consumption through process improvement and the elimination of unnecessary water usage. Since 2004, Delta has reduced annual water consumption by more than 150 million gallons per year.
Delta has reduced its water usage in its Atlanta Technical Operations Center (TOC) by 50 percent over the past five years.
Delta has also initiated a water consumption reduction / recycling system designed to reduce water consumption by 500,000 gallons per day at the TOC. Delta will also be implementing technology to recycle an additional 300,000 gallons per day, reducing the TOC’s consumption of water by 80 percent in just three years. In recognition of Delta’s proactive water conservation program, Delta received The Fox McCarthy Water Wise Award in 2005 for outstanding water conservation efforts.
Electrical Energy Conservation
Delta is working hard to ensure that its facilities are as energy-efficient as possible through upgrades to lighting, heating/air conditioning systems and computer systems.
Solar Power – Delta partnered with the Port of Portland and Nike to install solar panels to power Nike’s retail store at the Portland Airport. The combined efforts of Delta, Nike and the Port of Portland allow the store to be run entirely by solar power while educating customers about renewable energy.
Computer Equipment – Delta is conserving energy by upgrading electronic equipment and turning off equipment when not in use. Delta's corporate headquarters is upgrading office systems with more-efficient computers and LCD screens. At the Minneapolis/St. Paul and Memphis hubs, new LCD monitors at selected gates have replaced older CRT monitors. Delta also is implementing a “sleep program” for gate monitors not in use that has already reduced energy use by more than 112,000 kilowatts per year.
Green Buildings – Delta received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its new terminal at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Delta is the world’s first airline to earn such green building certification.
Delta is committed to finding ways to generate less waste by reducing the amount of paper employees and passengers use, adopting new technologies and safely reducing the amount of deicing fluid used.
E-Tickets – Delta has implemented e-ticket programs for 99.9 percent of all interline ticketing within the U.S. and 99.2 percent of ticketing with international partners.
Deicing Fluids – Delta has begun deicing with a low flow spray instead of a high flow spray. This process provides the same safe level of deicing effectiveness while reducing overspray and the amount of deicing fluid that needs to be reclaimed. In addition, other practices including temperature blending (making the right strength fluid for the current weather) has significantly reduced usage at several stations.
Office Paper – Delta’s office printers at its Atlanta headquarters have been set to double-sided printing, significantly reducing paper consumption and waste disposal
Delta instituted the first comprehensive in-flight recycling program in the industry. Delta has since expanded its recycling efforts to include office waste, employee recycling centers and aircraft carpet recycling.
In-Flight Recycling – Through the combined efforts of flight attendants, cabin service crews and catering teams, Delta’s in-flight recycling program has diverted 1,263,311 pounds (632 tons) of aluminum, plastic and paper products from community landfills. In 2008 and 2009, Delta built Habitat for Humanity homes with rebates earned from in-flight recycling efforts.
Aircraft carpet recycling – In fall 2007, Delta launched an aircraft carpet recycling program in partnership with Mohawk Aviation Carpet. In Atlanta, the program recycled 84,400 pounds of worn carpet by December 2008. In June 2008, Salt Lake City implemented an aircraft carpet recycling program where 10,480 pounds of the material was sent to a local cement kiln as an alternative fuel. The program has diverted a total of 18,976 square yards of carpet which is equal to 3.9 acres of land.
Through various initiatives, such as commuting alternatives and volunteer programs, Delta encourages its employees to become environmentally conscious at work, as well as in their private lives.
Alternative Commute Program – Delta has implemented rideshare programs in various cities across the U.S. promoting the use of alternative commute options. In Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, Delta subsidizes mass transit passes for its employees. Delta also supports van pools, carpools and teleworking options for employees. Since 2002, efforts have led to 5.3 million fewer miles being driven by our employees – enough for 11 round trips to the moon.
Volunteerism – Delta employees volunteer on a wide range of environmental conservation projects, including planting trees, habitat restoration, removal of invasive species and spreading native seeds.
Environmental Awards and Recognition
2009: Delta awarded the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “Green Save” award for its efforts in recycling, water conservation, and alternative commute options.
2008: Northwest was awarded the Great River Greening’s “Corporate Environmental Steward of the Year for 2008.”
2008: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded its 2008 WasteWise Gold Achievement Award to Delta in recognition the airline’s commitment to educating employees on the importance of recycling.
2008: Delta was presented an award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE) program for the airline's use of PreKote, an environmentally friendly, non-chromium surface pretreatment on its aircraft that reduced the amount of chromium hazardous waste.
2008 and 2007: Recognized for Outstanding Recycling Program by the Port of Portland.
Delta strongly supports research and development of alternative fuels that lessen the impact on the environment.
Delta joined a consortium at the Denver International Airport (DIA) to construct solar panel arrays to power the airport’s fuel farm. The facility will provide 2,450,000 kwh of power per year, enough to provide the majority of the fuel farm’s needs.
Delta joined with a consortium of other airlines to purchase up to 1.5 million gallons per year of renewable synthetic diesel fuel for use in ground equipment at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The fuel will be produced from urban woody green waste such as yard clippings, and will have a low carbon footprint and minimal particulate emissions.