SFO steps up plastic-free policy

The airport has banned the sale of all plastic bottles, pushing the hub closer to its goal of zero waste going to landfill

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has further expanded its industry leading plastic-free policy by banning the sale of beverages served in plastic bottles.

This follows its initial policy rolled out in August 2019, which saw SFO become the first airport in the world to prohibit the sale of single use water bottles which come in plastic or aseptic packaging.

Around 10,000 bottles of water were being sold at the airport everyday before the policy was implemented.  

Photo Flickr/Wally Gobetz

Now the strategy has been expanded to any beverage in plastic packaging rather than just water, including juices and teas.

In 2016, the airport set a goal to achieve zero waste going to landfill. Since then, SFO has been working with concessions and tenants on supporting different policies that will enable the goal to be reached.

Ivar Satero, airport director, said: “This is a significant moment in our goal to achieve zero waste going into landfill. We took a very important first step two years ago, and today we take the next step towards a plastic-free future. Throughout this journey, it has been our SFO business community which ensures our success, and we thank our partners for having the courage to be leaders in our industry.”

One example of this was to provide single-use food containers in sustainable packaging, as it was found that 33% of items sent to landfill sites from the airport are food and beverage related – according to waste characterisation studies.

The airport has created a guide of approved alternative materials for retailers to use instead of plastic bottles. Furthermore, 100 hydrations stations have been fitted across the airport to encourage to use of refillable water bottles.