Low-cost airline Ryanair hopes to reduce pollution caused by some of its flights to Amsterdam by 60% by using sustainable aviation fuel.
Since this month, one third of the approximately 1,500 flights per year Ryanair operates from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport will be powered by 40% sustainable fuel derived from used cooking oil.
Current regulations limit the amount of sustainable fuel that can be used in an aircraft to 50%.
Using a waste product like used cooking oil means fossil fuels that would have been used can remain in the ground, but this residual waste is a finite resource, environmentalists warn.
Ryanair Holdings – the parent company of Buzz, Lauda, Malta Air and Ryanair DAC – operates more than 2,400 flights a day from 82 airports and is already using a sustainable form of fuel on flights from France, Sweden and Norway.
Ryanair’s head of sustainability, Thomas Fowler, said that sustainable fuel is a “cornerstone” of its strategy to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, a widely accepted global target to reduce emissions as much as possible and, in theory , compensate only for emissions that cannot be reduced.
Airplanes account for about 2.5% of all global emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that warms the climate. Most jets are powered by kerosene, which is derived from fossil oil.
Fuel from waste residues such as cooking oil is the most environmentally friendly of various biofuels, as the product would not otherwise be used elsewhere, according to the Transport and Environment campaign group.
In theory, it also does not create competition for land with food or people in the same way as crops grown to create other biofuels.
“There is just so much waste and residue in the world. You don’t have an unlimited amount of them, “said Matteo Mirolo, head of aviation policy.
“With demand for used cooking oil set to double by 2030, we are very concerned about bogus imports,” he said, citing the incidence of virgin palm oil and other commodities. .
If the UCO is not really “used”, “it will fuel deforestation instead of decarbonising aviation,” he warned.
Stepping up verification and monitoring and containing demand would help, he added.