Home > About United > Global citizenship > Eco-Skies
Sustainability at the new United is first and foremost about creating a leading airline that achieves stability and profitability in a turbulent industry by delivering an exceptional product to our customers and our communities. We take it a step further with a genuine commitment to responsible actions that reduce our impact on the environment while continuing to achieve our business goals.
Aviation is a remarkably efficient economic engine, accounting for only 2% of global CO2 emissions while adding more than 7% to global GDP. Airlines today move passengers and cargo 70% farther on a gallon of fuel than 40 years ago.
We're proud of our own corporate track record, having improved aircraft fuel efficiency by 32% since 1994. We don't want to stop there, as we realize there's more to do. We're focusing on reducing our impact on the environment from all angles — in the air, on the ground, at our facilities, with our business partners and across our communities.
Our commitment to the environment
At United Airlines, we are committed to leading commercial aviation as an environmentally responsible company by taking actions today that shape an environmentally sustainable future, while continuing to comply with applicable laws and regulations. We will:
View a detailed summary of the steps United is taking toward sustainability (PDF)
- Reduce fuel use and improve fuel efficiency of our aircraft and vehicles through technology and process innovation.
- Advance and utilize environmentally responsible and cost-efficient alternative fuels.
- Improve the sustainability of products and our facilities, and responsibly manage wastes generated by our business activities.
- Work together with our co-workers and partner with our stakeholders — customers, airports, business partners, suppliers, governments and NGOs — to promote accountability and protect the environment while achieving our business goals.
A global approach to addressing greenhouse gas emissions
We support a global approach to addressing greenhouse gas emissions in the commercial aviation industry. Together with other airlines, engine and airframe manufacturers, fuel suppliers, airports, and governments, we're working toward collective industry goals, including 1.5% average annual fuel efficiency improvement through 2020, carbon neutral growth beginning in 2020 and a 50% reduction in CO2 by 2050 relative to 2005 baseline levels.
Major advancements in energy, operations and technology, including significant investment by the government in alternative fuels and air traffic control infrastructure modernization, are important elements of our success.
United has been participating in the Carbon Disclosure Project since 2006 and was the first U.S. carrier to fully do so. Please view our 2011 response for additional information on United Airlines' carbon footprint and climate change strategy.
Highlights of our accomplishments:
View a detailed list of accomplishments by commitment area (PDF)
- First U.S. passenger biofuel flight powered with a mixture of renewable algae-derived jet fuel and conventional jet fuel.
- 32% improvement in fuel efficiency through investing in a modern, fuel-efficient fleet and equipment.
- United has orders for 249 new aircraft deliveries through 2022, including 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 25 Airbus A350XWBs, and 100 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft.
- More than 330 aircraft in our mainline operations equipped with winglets that deliver up to a 5% reduction in emissions and noise.
- More than 24% of our ground service equipment vehicles are electric or alternatively fueled.
- First U.S. biofuel and synthetic fuel demonstration flights and signed letters of intent with various alternative jet fuel producers in the U.S. to purchase over 50 million gallons of cost-efficient and environmentally responsible alternative jet fuels derived from biomass feedstock.
- Recycling and waste minimization programs inflight, at our airports and at our facilities. Over the last six years, we recycled more than 20 million pounds of cans and plastic items from waste generated inflight and at our facilities.
Our carbon offset program
United offers our customers the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets that will reduce the climate change footprint associated with their air travel. The carbon offsets are provided through our partnership with Sustainable Travel International and allow you to participate in high impact projects designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide social and economic benefits to several communities that United serves. Our projects include:
- Forest conservation in Northern California
- Renewable energy in Texas
- Forest conservation in Belize
Learn more about the carbon offset program
View our carbon offset program FAQs