Five steps KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has taken to make air travel sustainable and ‘greener’

KLM is at the forefront of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) initiatives, taking strategic steps to ensure that the SAF used aligns with ethical and environmental standards. l SUPPLIED

KLM is at the forefront of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) initiatives, taking strategic steps to ensure that the SAF used aligns with ethical and environmental standards. l SUPPLIED

Published Jan 26, 2024


In an era marked by an urgent need for sustainability, the aviation industry stands at the forefront of change.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines understands the gravity of this responsibility and is actively working towards making air travel more eco-friendly.

According to the airline, recognising the significance of both monumental shifts and incremental changes, it is committed to transforming the onboard experience as one small but crucial step toward a sustainable future.

So, if you’re wondering what steps the airline is taking to reduce its carbon footprint, here are five steps the airline has taken to make air travel more sustainable and how you can also help.

Sustainable aviation fuel

According to KLM, it is at the forefront of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) initiatives, taking strategic steps to ensure that the SAF used aligns with ethical and environmental standards.

The airline is committed to sourcing SAF produced from raw materials that avoid competition with food production and prevent negative impacts on biodiversity and also refrains from using soy and palm oil due to their associations with high deforestation rates.

“A significant move towards sustainability is reflected in KLM's practice of incorporating 1% SAF into the fuel system for every flight departing from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

“Despite seeming modest, this initiative represents a crucial stride in the right direction.

“KLM aims to increase its use of SAF to 10% of total kerosene consumption by 2030. Adjusting ticket prices to accommodate the increased use of SAF, KLM ensures transparency in its sustainability efforts,” said the airline.

KLM said that it is actively engaged in shaping a more sustainable future for aviation by collaborating with business and cargo partners and allowing passengers to contribute to their bookings.


“KLM recognises the critical role of reforestation in addressing the global carbon balance, acknowledging that while it may not directly impact the environmental footprint of its flights, it contributes significantly to carbon absorption efforts.

“Forests possess the remarkable ability to absorb billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO₂) annually, acting as vital carbon sinks,” said the airline

It said that as part of its commitment to sustainability, it actively supports three distinct reforestation projects.

“Since 2017, the airline has been a key contributor to a project in Panama. Expanding its efforts, KLM incorporated two additional projects in Uganda and Colombia into its portfolio in 2022.

“By investing in these initiatives, KLM demonstrates a holistic approach to environmental responsibility, combining direct emission reduction strategies with endeavours that address and mitigate the existing carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere,” it said.

Reducing weight for environmental impact

KLM said it acknowledges that every ounce matters in the quest for sustainability so, as a result, the airline has embarked on a journey to reduce the weight of various on-board items, demonstrating a clear understanding that lighter planes consume less fuel, resulting in reduced CO₂ emissions.

From seats and trolleys to glassware and trays, KLM is meticulous in its approach to minimising the carbon footprint.

For instance, lighter versions of catering trolleys save an average of 400 kg per intercontinental flight, while shaving off 98g from World Business Class glassware translates to a saving of 14 kg per flight, totalling 400 tons less CO₂ emissions annually.

KLM also revealed that when it comes to Economy Class, World Business Class, and Premium Comfort Class seats have undergone modifications, collectively reducing weight and contributing to environmental conservation and by carrying less drinking water on specific flights, KLM saves up to 2.7 million kilograms of CO₂ annually.

Conscious meal choices and environmental considerations

The airline said that it serves approximately 40 million meals annually, recognising the significant environmental impact of its catering services.

“The airline strives to make mindful choices in meal selection, emphasising environmental responsibility. Collaborating with environmentally conscious suppliers ensures that KLM's commitment to sustainability extends throughout the supply chain,” it said.

Recycling initiatives and waste reduction goals

And finally, KLM revealed that it sets ambitious targets for waste reduction, aiming to consistently produce 50% less residual waste than in 2011 by 2030.

“Recycling initiatives on-board, including waste segregation, re-purposing coffee grounds, and exploring re-use possibilities, highlight KLM's dedication to minimising its environmental footprint,” KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

So what can passengers do to help?

Acknowledging the challenges of stringent recycling regulations in certain destinations, KLM actively works to influence positive changes. In the spirit of collective responsibility, the airline encourages passengers to contribute to sustainable travel.

Here are a few ways travellers can get involved:

Pack light

Every kilo counts. Passengers are urged to consider the weight and necessity of their baggage for a lighter environmental impact.

Bring your water bottle

Reducing single-use plastic waste can be as simple as bringing a reusable water bottle onboard for crew refills.

Electronic boarding pass

Embracing digital boarding passes minimises paper waste, contributing to KLM's environmental goals.

Consider alternate transport

For short distances, passengers are urged to explore train or bus options, emitting less CO₂ than flights.

Opt for plant-based meals

Choosing vegan or vegetarian meals on flights aligns with eco-conscious dining, contributing to lower environmental impact.

In a world where sustainability is paramount, KLM's multifaceted approach reflects its commitment to leading the airline industry toward a greener and more responsible future.

As passengers, we too can play a pivotal role in this journey by adopting conscious travel practices and supporting initiatives that prioritise the planet's well-being.