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Eurostar plans to halve its use of plastics within two years

Eurostar train arrives at Rotterdam Central Station.
A Eurostar train arrives at Rotterdam Central Station. Photograph: Lex van Lieshout/EPA

Eurostar has unveiled a new 10-point plan to cut carbon emissions and reduce waste over the next three years, highlighting the reduced carbon footprint of high-speed rail for short-haul journeys.

Among its pledges are reducing its use of plastics by 50% by 2020 – including the millions of plastic bottles handed out to passengers every year. It will also work with its catering partners to reduce food and other waste, at source, and find alternative materials for packaging, aiming to eventually eliminate paper ticketing with a reduction of 50% by 2020.

The new targets build on the initial Tread Lightly programme launched in 2007, which led Eurostar to achieve a 32% reduction in carbon emissions and a 50% cut in waste across its business.

The operator already promotes itself as the “greener” alternative for trips between London and Paris, claiming that high-speed rail emits up to 90% less carbon than flying and produces less carbon per passenger than a single car journey from central London to Heathrow airport.

Assortment of coloured plastic straws.
Eurostar already has a ban on plastic straws onboard trains and in its lounges. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA

Although it has not yet announced the launch date of its new London to Amsterdam service – it has been put back several times but is promised for the spring – it is targeting the four million-plus passengers who fly on that route every year.

Nicolas Petrovic, outgoing chief executive of Eurostar said: “Over the last eight years we have reduced our carbon footprint by more than 30% but given the scale of the challenge facing the environment, we are now setting new targets. We are committed to increasing our energy efficiency and reducing our waste across the business.”

Eurostar carries more than 10 million passengers every year and Petrovic admitted that reducing its dependence on plastic bottles was a “major challenge”. But the goal of reducing the use of plastics has already begun with the ban of plastic straws onboard trains and in lounges, while metal cutlery is used in first class. The company has set up a working group to look at alternatives for plastic cutlery in the bar buffet, reducing plastic bottles and exploring the use of more eco-friendly materials.

This article titled "Eurostar plans to halve its use of plastics within two years" was written by Rebecca Smithers, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 7 February 2018 03.45pm

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