Skip the toilet and save the planet.jpg

Skip the toilet and save the planet

By: Sarah Howe

Email: [email protected]

FORGIVE THE pun, but could it be the first flush of environmental awareness in China? One of the country’s leading airlines has begun encouraging passengers to use the toilet before they board flights, as a way of saving energy.

Chinese Southern Airlines hopes to reduce costs with the new policy, because it estimates that a single flush at 30,000 feet uses a litre of fuel. “The energy used in one flush is enough for an economical car to run at least 10km,” pilot Liu Zhiyuan was quoted as saying.

The airline also hinted at plans to improve efficiency by carrying fewer creature comforts. The company estimates the average aircraft in its fleet uses 60 tons of fuel a day simply to carry blankets and pillows. Reducing the human waste in the aeroplane’s tanks would also save 47 million yuan (three million pounds sterling) per year.

Balance the books

China Southern’s main motivation is to balance its books after a poor financial performance. Its effort to save fuel is likely to be welcomed by the central government, which is desperate to improve energy efficiency. As well as the worsening pollution of its air and water, China is rapidly catching up with the US as the worst emitter of greenhouse gases.

Last year, the government announced plans to more than double China’s reliance on renewable energy by 2020.

Environmentalists welcomed the China Southern policy. “More companies are trying to portray themselves as trying to help the environment,” said Liang Ying, a green activist. “The best motivation to save energy is to … save money.”