At Delta, we are committed to being a sustainable, transparent and responsible airline industry leader. Transparency and responsibility are also fundamental to Delta’s operations and global sustainability strategy.

As part of these commitments, Delta publishes an annual Corporate Responsibility Report. Included in the report is a description of our environmental sustainability strategy and data on sustainability performance. Delta’s environmental sustainability performance metrics are based on what is considered to be material areas of impact, and metrics are illustrated as year-over-year comparisons.

“At Delta, we believe that reducing our impact on the environment is a business imperative. By improving fuel efficiency across our fleet, we are helping to lessen the global impacts of our operations while lowering the cost of fuel, which is Delta’s largest expense. We also believe in operating transparently, and voluntarily seek to verify our greenhouse gas emissions, report to the CDP, and respond to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index questionnaire. While it may be impossible to completely mitigate our impacts, Delta continuously seeks to improve performance over the long-term. We remain committed to doing what we can to reduce our impacts, and we encourage employees and customers to join us in this effort.”

— John Laughter, Senior Vice President – Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance

Climate Change and Energy

    Climate Change and Energy Strategy go hand-in-hand, and together help to reduce the environmental impacts of Delta operations. For more comprehensive information on Delta’s Climate Change and Energy Strategy please see the 2014 Corporate Responsibility Reportopens in a new window.


    In 2010, Delta developed a Climate Change Strategy and Carbon Emissions Policy to address Delta’s biggest environmental impact, carbon emissions. The strategy and policy together dictate how Delta measures, manages and educates on climate change risks.

    They also dictate how climate change is addressed internally, and dealt with in regards to policy issues that arise on local, federal and international levels.

    In an effort to proactively address climate change, Delta annually identifies action items that will support the Climate Change Strategy, and these actions are approved by the Executive Environmental Leadership Council (EELC). Key annual Delta action items to support the Climate Change Strategy include:

    • Carbon reporting and management (voluntary through The Climate Registry and mandatory through compliance with the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Title V Reporting)
    • Engagement with industry and industry association groups on local, state and international regulation/best practices
    • Engagement and education of customers and employees on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change
    • Partnership with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions’ Business Environmental Leadership Council (along with other leading Fortune 500 companies) on development of efficient, effective solutions to climate issues
    • Actions approved by the EELC. These actions ultimately support the larger industry’s short-, medium- and long- term goals on climate change through fuel efficiency improvement, carbon neutral growth post 2020 and absolute greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
    Climate Change Goals

    Aligned with industry IATA* goal - Improve aircraft fuel efficiency by an average of 1.5 percent annually from 2009 through 2020.

    2014 Progress on Fuel Efficiency Goal: ON TRACK

    In 2014, Delta did continue to improve over 2013 efficiency with a year-over-year 1.93 percent improvement. However despite this year-over-year improvement, Delta’s fuel efficiency falls short of the IATA goal with the average since 2009 at 1.23 percent.

    In 2015 additional fuel savings will be targeted to help us attain the 1.5 percent goal.


    Aligned with industry IATA goal - Stabilize net aviation CO2 emissions at a 2020 baseline level and reduce net aviation emissions to 50 percent of 2005 emissions by 2050.

    2014 Progress on Carbon-Neutral Growth Goal: ACHIEVED

    In advance of the 2020 IATA goal, Delta decided to gain experience in the carbon market by setting 2012 as our baseline emission year for carbon neutral growth. In 2014 we achieved carbon neutral growth by first focusing on fuel efficiency initiatives, and then by purchasing carbon offsets.

    2014 Progress on Managing Absolute Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goal: ON TRACK

    Since 2005, Delta has decreased our total carbon footprint by 16 percent through a combined fleet, network, fuel, and energy savings strategy across all operations. However, total emissions began increasing in 2013 for combined Scope 1 through Scope 3 emissions. In 2015, Delta will continue to explore strategies to manage our total greenhouse gas emissions.




    In 2014, Delta officially launched a partnership with the Carbon War Room, a non-profit founded by Sir Richard Branson, in an effort to accelerate low-carbon jet fuel production worldwide. Delta and the Carbon War Room agree that the development of a secure, sustainable, renewable fuel supply will strengthen the airline industry’s access to high-quality jet fuel, reduce price volatility and the industry’s overall carbon footprint and meet the needs of increasingly climate-conscious customers.


    Because Delta believes that small actions can lead to significant results, Delta offers passengers the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions of any flight through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy focuses on reforestation and conservation projects, and the average tree conserved through this Carbon Offset Program sequesters up to 7.5 metric tons of CO2 over its lifetime. For comparison, a round-trip flight from New York to London emits about one metric ton of CO2 per passenger.

    A carbon calculator can be found at www.delta.com/co2 that allows passengers to enter their flight itineraries, view the carbon emissions associated with each part of their trip, and offset to the project of their choice: The Rio Bravo Climate Action Project located in northwest Belize, The Valdivian Coastal Reserve project in Chile’s southern coastline, or the Clinch Valley Conservation Forestry Program in southwestern Virginia. For the year, Delta, Delta customers and employees offset 3,910 metric tons of carbon emissions. More information on individual conservation projects can be found in the 2014 Corporate Responsibility Report.


    In addition to managing fuel consumption which accounts for more than 98.6 percent of Delta’s total carbon footprint, a focus on building energy consumption has been adopted to reduce emission from Scope 2 electricity at owned facilities. A stretch goal of 10 percent energy reduction, compared to a 2013 baseline, was adopted for all Delta-owned facilities at our headquarters in Atlanta. In 2014, building management upgrades, installation of occupancy sensors in appropriate locations and the launch of several employee engagement campaigns resulted in a 3.9 percent reduction in Atlanta’s energy consumption.

    Due to the age of buildings and the need to approach energy mitigation strategies in a cost-effective manner, the 2015 energy efficiency goal has been reduced to 5 percent for the Atlanta headquarters. With regard to these goals, additional projects such as lighting rewiring and retrofits, additional building management system upgrades, and variable frequency drive installations on air handler units across these facilities will help contribute to the 2015 energy reduction goal. 


    In 2014, a 10 percent stretch goal was set for reducing energy use at owned and operated facilities.

    2014 Progress on Energy Efficiency Goal: NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

    In 2014, with a variety of building management upgrades, Delta achieved a 3.9 percent energy reduction against the 2013 baseline. In 2015, noting difficulties in achieving reductions, Delta refined the boundaries for owned and operated facilities we are able to influence and will reassess operations seeking further reduction opportunities. Moving forward, the new Delta goal has been adjusted to a 5 percent improvement year-over-year. Delta is also beginning the Better Buildings Challenge.


    At Delta, we understand the responsibility to minimize environmental impacts and conduct operations in an environmentally sustainable manner. Delta is committed to complying with all environmental laws and regulations which govern the airline industry as minimum requirements. In the absence of government regulation, Delta is committed to operating in an environmentally responsible manner as defined by the best practices of the aviation industry.

    One of the ways we ensure compliance is through the setting of environmental performance goals. In addition Delta measures and reports progress to leaders in their respective divisions on a monthly and quarterly basis, and proactively shares information with customers and external stakeholders on an annual basis in this report. 


    In 2014, Delta set a spill goal for each of the following operating divisions: Airport Customer Service (Goal = 60); Corporate Real Estate (Goal = 3); Safety, Health and Environment (Goal = 0); and Technical Operations (Goal = 6).

    2014 Progress on Spills Goals: ON TRACK

    In 2014, Delta saw a slight increase in the number of Class I and Reportable spills compared to 2013. However, this is primarily attributable to the four spills involving fuel distribution systems. The 2015 goal has been re-set at 81 Class I & II spills due to a change in the spill reporting period, from the previous calendar year (January-December), to spills reported from September 1 to August 31.


    Delta has the goal of continuous monitoring and improvement of air quality. At the station level, the focus is on achieving compliance with local state, city, county and district regulations that impact Delta operations.

    2014 Progress on Air Quality goals: ON TRACK

    At the end of 2014, Delta was in compliance with all mobile source equipment rules, and proactively attaining many forward-looking (2015 and beyond) emission goals and standards for Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), Particulate Matter (PM), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions.


    Delta generates many different forms of waste from operations, and these waste streams have a variety of environmental impacts with different compliance handling requirements. Delta’s waste streams include materials that are recyclable, materials that are not recyclable and must go to landfills, and hazardous materials that must be disposed of in accordance with local, state and federal regulations.

    Delta is committed to minimizing all waste streams through various means including diversion and re-use, waste recycling programs, and reducing the amount of non-hazardous waste produced. In addition to waste stream minimization efforts, Delta is committed to the proper handling and disposal of hazardous waste generated in operations. For more comprehensive information on all of Delta’s waste streams please see the 2014 Corporate Responsibility Report.


    In 2014, Delta targeted year-over-year improvements for waste reduction of hazardous, landfill, and recyclable materials.

    2014 Progress on Waste Reduction Goal: ON TRACK

    In 2014, hazardous waste generation system-wide dropped 14 percent over 2013. The in-flight recycling program volume increased by 6.8 percent from 2013, as the number of recycling cities expanded to 33. Employee recycling at the Atlanta Headquarters campus declined 6 percent from 356 tons in 2013 to 334 tons in 2014. Non-hazardous waste increased system-wide by 27 percent over 2013. Finally, by the end of 2014, Delta had innovatively diverted 12,640 lbs of life vests, 65,000 lbs of carpet and 7,973 tons of leather seat covers through upcycling efforts.



    Delta’s award winning in-flight single stream recycling program is now operating in 33 domestic locations and one international location.

    On domestic flights arriving at stations with recycling facility options, single stream materials - plastic, aluminum, and paper – are collected by flight attendants in the air and comingled in designated bags. Upon flight arrival, the bags of comingled recyclable materials are then collected by Cabin Service and transported to designated site-specific recycling containers. In addition to single stream recycling, catering facilities that partner with Delta recycle empty cans and bottles left in beverage carts.

    From 2007 to 2014, Delta’s in-flight recycling program has diverted nearly 10 million pounds of material in total from landfills domestically. At the Atlanta headquarters, rebates from in-flight recycling on Atlanta in-bound flights have been donated to Habitat for Humanity through Delta’s Force for Global Good foundation. Total rebates from 2007 to 2014 totaled more than $600,000, and have been used to fund six Habitat for Humanity houses in several domestic cities throughout the Delta system.




    Delta has established relationships with a variety of vendors and partners to innovatively divert waste, reduce impacts on the environment, and provide new life to old materials. These innovative diversion programs also support the Delta goals of social and environmental responsibility. One example of innovative diversion is through upcycling. Upcycling is a process that takes materials at their end of life and turns them into new products, thus giving them a new life and reducing the amount of new and virgin materials needed to produce new products.

    By the end of 2014 Delta had innovatively diverted 250 lbs of safety vests, 12,640 lbs of life vests, 65,000 lbs of carpet, and 7,973 tons of leather seat covers from the landfill through upcycling efforts.


    Used safety vests are given a second life by Re:loom weavers. Re:loom is an
    Atlanta-based program that supports homeless and low-income adults by training them to weave new and original products from upcycled materials. For this program Delta provides life vests that are turned into tablet cases, passport covers and clutches. All products are then available for sale to the public. In addition to learning a trade, weavers receive a stable salary and full healthcare coverage.

    At the end of 2014, 250 lbs. of safety vests had been upcycled.


    Delta is partnering with the sustainable upcycling company Skyebags to provide a second life to used seat covers from Delta planes. Upcycling Delta seat covers into new products also supports wider global conservation of natural resources by reducing the amounts of energy and water necessary to produce new and virgin materials for products.

    At the end of 2014, 7,973 lbs. of leather had been upcycled into new Skyebag leather


    Used life vests are given a second life as new bags, totes and aprons. New Ventures is an Atlanta-based program providing work based training and skills to youth and adults with disabilities.

    At the end of 2014, 8,000 life vests or 12,640 lbs. had been upcycled

  • In-Flight Recycling Program

    In communities around the world, billions of people are affected by water scarcity each year. Although water is not a material aspect of Delta’s business operations, Delta seeks to understand how internal efforts affect water usage and contribute to global water conservation efforts in locations and facilities Delta controls.

    Delta currently measures actual metered water usage at Atlanta headquarters and Minneapolis Technical Operations.’ Additional estimated water usage is provided for facilities and locations where Delta is not directly billed or in control of the facility. Non- Delta controlled facilities are primarily airport spaces owned and operated by others. In total, directly billed water usage accounts for approximately 37 percent of Delta’s total water footprint. From 2013 to 2014, Delta increased its total billed water usage by approximately 3 percent, or 6 million gallons more than 2013 totals.

    With regard to water usage estimates for non-Delta controlled facilities, we have chosen to utilize the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) estimation calculator to estimate passenger and employee water use.


    In 2014, Delta targeted year-over-year improvements for water reduction.

    2014 Water Reduction Goal: NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

    Delta will continue to report estimated water usage at non-Delta controlled facilities and has committed to a year-over-year reduction goal against a 2013 baseline at Delta owned and operated facilities. In 2014 there was a 3 percent increase in water usage at Delta owned and operated facilities attributed to the continued expansion of Delta’s operations.

  • Delta Carbon Offset Reporting and Disclosure
    Corporate Responsibility Reports

    Our current and previous Corporate Responsibility Reports can be viewed here.



    Our annual responsesOpens External Site in new window to the CDP’s Investor and Supplier questionnaires can be viewed on the CDP website.

    Dow Jones Sustainability Index

    We’ve also been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America for the second consecutive year, and are the only airline selected from the top 20% of the 600 largest U.S. and Canadian companies in the Dow Jones Global Total Stock Market Index.

    Environment Policyopens in a new window

    Carbon Emission Policyopens in a new window