Boeing’s first commercial aircraft was launched in 1916. Its first Sustainability Report was published last week: 26JUL21. For a commercial aircraft manufacturer that, together with Airbus, dominates a 99% market share, 2021 is not a moment too soon to be focusing on improving sustainability in aviation. So what does it contain, and how did it come about?
“In September 2020, amidst a global pandemic, Boeing formed a Sustainability organization dedicated to advancing our ESG [Environmental, Social, and Governance] efforts across the enterprise. As we continue on this journey, we are pleased to publish our first comprehensive report, focused on stakeholder responsiveness and data transparency,” Boeing Chief Sustainability Officer, Chris Raymond, explains. “We know there’s still work to do and are committed to communicating our progress and holding ourselves accountable to ensure the aerospace industry is safe and sustainable for generations to come.”
77 pages focused on 4 pillars
“At Boeing, everything we do ties back to our values and purpose, which is ‘to protect, connect, and explore the world and beyond,’” Dave Calhoun, Boeing’s President and CEO, outlines in the introduction, pointing out that over the course of its existence, Boeing has looked for innovative ways to sustainably improve. Page 11 illustrates examples starting in 2008 with the first flight using fuel cells powered by hydrogen, and the first test flight with a commercial aircraft using sustainable aviation fuel. He iterates, too, that sustainability has come to encompass far more than simply environmental impact improvements, and therefore Boeing’s sustainability efforts are centered around 4 main pillars: People, Products & Services, Operations, and Communities.
These pillars are broken down further into 11 “key sustainability priorities based on stakeholder interests. Our key stakeholders include our communities, customers, current and future employees, the flying public, investors, regulators, and suppliers. We have defined key sustainability priorities and aligned them with responsible and inclusive business practices to enable a positive global impact,” the report reads, listing the 11 topics which include climate action, employee safety, diversity, ethics, quality, and information security, to name but a few.
6 Sustainability Goals
“To reflect our ambition, Boeing has set six 2030 goals to advance sustainable aerospace in alignment with our key sustainability priorities and stakeholder interests. We are laser-focused on these ambitions today and are in the process of developing waypoints and metrics to demonstrate progress, hold ourselves accountable, and push ourselves to be and do better. We will share our
metrics and waypoints to 2030 in our next report,” the document stipulates. Assumably the next report will be published this time in 2022. The six goals all tie in with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, are allocated to the four pillars, and outlined in detail in the report, underlined with figures where appropriate. The laser-focused ambitions are on Employee safety & well-being, Global aerospace safety, Equity, diversity & inclusion, Innovation & clean technology, Sustainable operations, and Community engagement.
Sustainability highlights in 2020
The pandemic year saw Boeing’s groundwork in preparing its Sustainability strategy, which included “defining the company’s vision for the future of sustainable aerospace through fleet renewal, network operational efficiency, renewable energy and advanced technology” as well as establishing the six goals “in alignment with our key sustainability priorities and stakeholder interests.”
Other highlights include collaborating on creating an electric air taxi, using digital engineering tools to vastly improve assembly times in aircraft production, and “attaining the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award for Sustained Excellence every year since 2010.”
From an environmental point of view, Boeing set environmental performance goals for 2030 to continue to reduce emissions (net-zero achieved on various work sites in 2020), waste (44% reduction in solid waste and 34% in hazardous waste in 2020), water use (23% reduction in 2020) and energy consumption (12% reduction in 2020), and committed to delivering “commercial airplanes capable of flying on 100% sustainable fuels” by 2030,” partnering with Etihad Airways on its 2020 ecoDemonstrator program to test sustainable technologies on a 787-10 Dreamliner.
Boeing demonstrates social responsibility
On a social level, Boeing established a “20-member Racial Equity Task Force to represent diverse viewpoints and amplify all voices at Boeing,” and like many of its airline partners, played an important role in “responding to COVID-19 by executing airlift missions to transport supplies, providing community vaccination sites and minimizing air travel health risks through the Confident Travel Initiative.”
According to its press release, Boeing contributed “US$234 million in community giving, working with 13,400 community partners and volunteering 250,000 hours” in 2020.
Just a couple of days ago, on 29JUL21, the company also donated €500,000 from its Boeing Charitable Trust fund to the American Red Cross towards the flood relief efforts in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, where communities were devasted by raging storms a few weeks ago. Dr. Michael Haidinger, President of Boeing Germany, stated: “Boeing has a strong relationship with Germany and we feel that it is our responsibility to stand at the side of the German people in these exceptional circumstances.”
Boeing directly employees around 1,000 staff in Germany and supports an estimated 23,000 direct and indirect jobs in the country.
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