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Climate and Environment

Embedding Sustainability in Everything We Do

Although emissions from flying represent the majority of Delta’s environmental footprint, we also strive to reduce environmental impacts elsewhere in our operations by developing a sustainability mindset across our business. Delta has adopted sustainability goals in three distinct areas, under the organizational pillar of Embedding Sustainability in Everything We Do.

THE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE

Reducing waste and incorporating more sustainable products onboard our aircraft helps us reduce our environmental impact, enhance the customer experience and improve our operations. Our long-term goal is to achieve 100% diversion of waste related to the customer onboard travel experience by 2050.

AT A GLANCE: THE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE

CORE CHALLENGE

Reducing waste and delivering more sustainable products and amenities to our customers

OUR ROLE

Finding innovative ways to eliminate waste onboard and on the ground

Our Goals
2025
Minimize

Single-use plastics on board


2035
65%

Waste diversion from landfill 1


2050
100%

Waste diversion from landfill 1

WHAT WE’VE DONE SO FAR

  • Removed or replaced singleuse plastic items such as stir sticks, service ware and straws, and refreshed items including amenity kits, cutlery and bedding, resulting in the elimination of approximately 4.9 million pounds of onboard single-use plastics per year
  • Began onboard testing of new paper cups, aiming to help eliminate nearly 7 million pounds of single-use plastics on board annually
  1. As it relates to customer onboard travel experience, excluding other aspects of aircraft operations.

Reducing Single-Use Plastics

We continue to focus on minimizing single-use plastics on board our aircraft. Key achievements have included fully replacing plastic cutlery with bamboo across our aircraft operations for all customers, introducing dishware made from biodegradable material and utilizing premium paper placemats on international flights.

We have also been working hard to address one of our most significant waste streams: single-use plastic cups. In 2023, we took a significant step forward by beginning onboard testing of new paper cups on select flights. The new cups are the result of several years of prototyping and testing to find a cup capable of withstanding hot, cold and alcoholic drinks, while meeting strict environmental regulations. Once approved and rolled out across the Delta network, paper cups will help eliminate nearly 7 million pounds of single-use plastics on board annually.

Onboard Waste Diversion

Our teams continually explore opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle throughout our onboard service operations. This includes collecting data and designing updated processes and other interventions to improve performance. For example, in early 2023, we completed a main cabin pre-arrival meal consumption study which highlighted an opportunity to reduce boarding ratios on selected routes between the United States and Europe. Implementation of the proposed changes resulted in waste avoidance of 395,699 sandwiches and savings of $1,076,300. In addition to reducing waste and costs, boarding fewer meals contributes to lowering service weight, which can help reduce fuel consumption.

We have also undertaken several projects to help prevent unused service items from going to waste. For example, in late 2022, we implemented a small procedural change to encourage flight attendants to retie partially used sleeves of cups so that they could be reloaded on future flights. This led to reductions in both waste and cost, with nearly 94 million fewer cups ordered in 2023.

As part of a global effort to assess the baseline amount of waste in our service operations, we have recognized opportunities to increase waste diversion in our catering kitchens. At Atlanta’s Domestic Flight Kitchen (DFK), improved recycling systems and processes have helped increase total recycling to 475,817 pounds over the year. Also at DFK, we have introduced composting, resulting in 39,444 pounds of organic waste being diverted in 2023.

Paperless Gates

In 2023, Delta gate agents stopped automatically printing pre-departure and departure documents on all flights. The process transformation included collaboration between our Airport Customer Service, In-Flight Service and Flight Operations teams. This effort eliminates printer malfunctions that can cause delays, cuts printer maintenance costs and reduces the equivalent of 1,200 trees in paper annually.

Donations


In 2023, we donated 1,951,280 pounds of bedding, amenity kits, food, first-aid supplies, water and other items to those in need.

GROUND OPERATIONS AND FACILITIES

Delta’s sustainability efforts also extend to ground services and key operational sites, including terminals, maintenance facilities and corporate offices. Our strategy focuses both on reducing GHG emissions – with a long-term goal of 100% net-zero operations – and addressing other environmental impacts such as waste.

AT A GLANCE: GROUND OPERATIONS & FACILITIES

CORE CHALLENGE

Reducing the environmental impact of ground service equipment (GSE), facilities and other operations

OUR ROLE

Electrifying Delta equipment, sourcing renewable electricity and driving other initiatives to reduce energy, waste and emissions

Our Goals
2025
50%

GSE electrification 1; 5 hubs at 100% of core 2 fleet


2035
100%

Of hubs’ GSE electrified

Renewable energy powering operations


2050
100%

Net-zero operations

WHAT WE’VE DONE SO FAR

  • Purchased and deployed 1,647 eGSE units since 2020, achieving 31% electrification of critical GSE fleet
  • Approached 100% electrification of core 2 fleets at BOS and SLC hubs
  1. All eligible core and critical fleets necessary to turn an aircraft.
  2. Core fleet consists of baggage tractors, belt loaders and aircraft tow tractors.

Ground Support Electrification

We continue to make progress in transitioning to electrified ground support equipment (eGSE). This not only reduces fuel use, which helps meet our climate goals, but also contributes to improved air quality, less hazardous waste and reduced noise. Electric equipment can also bring enhanced performance and safety features and lower maintenance and operating costs, supporting more efficient and effective operations – especially at our busiest hubs.

Since 2020, we have retired 3,574 gas- and diesel-powered GSE units from our core fleet and introduced 1,647 zero-emission eGSE units, achieving a total of 31% electrification of our critical GSE fleet. We have now reached nearly 100% electrification of core GSE fleets at two hubs: BOS and Salt Lake City (SLC). We are also making eGSE investments at our hubs in ATL, JFK, LAX, LGA, MSP, Seattle (SEA) and many smaller airports that Delta serves.

In addition to the equipment itself, electrification requires thoughtful planning and investments in infrastructure – especially charging. That means working closely with airport partners to coordinate funding and construction, often in conjunction with other ongoing terminal and gate improvements, as well as targeting investments at airports that are already eGSE-ready. Additionally, supporting policies and incentives – including the FAA’s VALE program for airports and state-specific grant programs for the industry – are key to accelerating airport electrification.

Campus Greening

In March 2023, we transitioned to compostable cups, dishware and utensils in our four cafeterias at the Delta World Headquarters, diverting more than 18 tons of waste from landfill in 2023. Later in the year, we began a centralized waste and campus greening project which includes removal of deskside bins throughout employee spaces, replacing them with 3-receptacle bins (compost, recycling and landfill). The bins were thoughtfully designed inhouse at our Delta facility. The materials for the bins include upcycled wood crating from aircraft parts and recycled plastic. Bins are set to roll out across main-office employee spaces in 2024.

Energy Consumption in Our Facilities

Although the vast majority of our calculated GHG emissions are generated from jet fuel consumption, we recognize the need to address all areas of our business as we strive to achieve net-zero emissions. To that end, Delta has committed to reducing GHG emissions across all ground operations and facilities, which includes both owned and leased facilities. Since 2022, we have saved approximately 1,210 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity annually by transitioning to light-emitting diode (LED) lighting across 36 locations and upgrading cooling towers in our Tech Ops facilities. In 2023 alone, we increased these savings by approximately 892 MWh, equivalent to 363 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO 2e).

Delta is also working with airports to improve efficiency within our terminals. In 2020, Delta worked alongside the Salt Lake City Department of Airports to build the first new hub airport in the United States in the 21st century. This 4-million-square-foot addition achieved its goal of LEED Gold certification for the Terminal Redevelopment Program project and Concourse B-West. Key environmental initiatives included water-efficient plumbing fixtures, 2.1 Megawatts (MW) of off-site green power through Rocky Mountain Power, increased windows for natural lighting and reduced taxi and aircraft idling times.

2023 EV CHARGING


JANFEBMARAPRMAYJUNEJULYAUGSEPTOCTNOVDEC1008060402001.20.00.20.40.60.81.0Energy (thousand kWh)Accumulated (GWh)Energy (thousand kWh)Accumulated (GWh)

DELTA’S ENERGY MIX BY FUEL 1

48%Natural Gas21%Coal18%Nuclear4%Hydropower4%Biomass2%Wind2%Solar
  1. Delta’s grid mix is calculated by aggregating a national fuel profile provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database with Delta’s energy consumption across different geographies.

SUPPLY CHAIN

Sustainable sourcing supports our focus on creating a world-class supply chain while advancing our longstanding commitment to ethical and responsible procurement practices. Our current priorities include gaining greater insight into the environmental performance of suppliers and sourcing more sustainable alternatives within key purchasing categories.

AT A GLANCE: SUPPLY CHAIN

CORE CHALLENGE

Understanding and reducing environmental impacts associated with the goods and services we purchase to run our business

OUR ROLE

Creating transparency and accountability in our supply chain

Our Goals
2025
100%

Of preferred vendors on carbon tracking system


2030
100%

Of preferred vendors with net-zero plans


2050
100%

Net-zero supply chain

WHAT WE’VE DONE SO FAR

  • Expanded environmental standards for suppliers
  • On-boarded 52% 1 of suppliers by spend to EcoVadis platform
  • Became a founding member of EcoVadis’ Sustainable Airlines Initiative, aiming to improve ethical, social and environmental business standards across the industry’s value chain

Supply Chain Assessment

We continue to work with suppliers to support their completion of the EcoVadis sustainability assessment.

This evaluation provides actionable scorecards and other information to help us identify deficiencies and implement corrective actions where needed, as well as to spot positive practices that support our sustainability goals. As of year-end 2023, we have onboarded 496 suppliers representing 52% 1 of our supply chain by spend.

To further enhance supplier engagement via the EcoVadis platform, Delta joined Air France–KLM, Transavia and Virgin Atlantic in founding the Sustainable Airlines Initiative (SAI) in early 2023. Coordinated by EcoVadis, the effort seeks to improve ethical, social and environmental business standards across the industry’s value chain and spark systemic transformation toward supply chain transparency. This includes working together to enroll common suppliers in the aviation industry’s vertical and horizontal supply chain, resulting in increased efficiency and the dissemination of best practices for meeting shared sustainability challenges.


52% 1

BY SPEND

Supply base with validated EcoVadis scorecards

  1. In 2022, Delta began rolling the EcoVadis assessment out to a select portion of our supply chain and over time is continuing to expand the scope of suppliers subject to Delta’s ESG assessment process. Previous reports indicate the success of our initial EcoVadis assessment rollout, and moving forward this will represent Delta’s enterprise-wide third party spend coverage.

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

In 2023, we were proud to offer passengers new food and beverage selections from several vendors that are advancing sustainability in their products and operations.

For example:

  • Lotus Biscoff®: Our popular kosher recipe Lotus-Biscoff® cookies have transitioned to a thinner wrapper that uses less plastic.
  • New Belgium/Bell’s Brewery: New Belgium/Bell’s is a Certified B Corporation and woman co-founded brand that is working towards being 100% carbon neutral by 2030. Their notable commitments and achievements include assisting their farmers to have more climate-friendly farming practices, transitioning their Voodoo Ranger IPA to light-weight bottles and fiber packaging to reduce their carbon footprint and the fuel required for shipping and making their flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale the first nationally distributed certified carbon neutral beer in North America.

Showcasing Our Sustainability Strategy in Action

In 2023, Delta took part in the second annual Sustainable Flight Challengeopens in a new window. Organized by the SkyTeam Alliance, this challenge tasks participating airlines around the world to activate around passenger flights with sustainability in mind to help encourage innovation throughout the industry. Delta completed two roundtrip flights – from Los Angeles to Atlanta on May 17th and Atlanta to Paris on May 23rd – showcasing a variety of actions we are taking to reduce our impact in the air and on the ground.

As a result of the innovations tested and showcased at Sustainable Flight Challenge, Delta was named a winner for “Lowest CO 2 Ground Emissions Home Base” for eGSE and “Best Innovation Wildcard” for Delta’s overall high performance in innovation. We were also shortlisted as a finalist in the “Best in Innovation” and “Lowest CO 2 Emissions Ground Ops” categories.

FLYING MORE EFFICIENT AIRCRAFT

Delta completed the flights using two of its most fuel-efficient aircraft, the A321NEO and A350-900.

REDUCING POTABLE WATER

Delta tested decreasing the amount of potable water loaded onto the aircraft to fly lighter without compromising safety or customer experience. This reduced over 1,100 pounds of water weight, which helped save approximately 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO 2) emissions.

TESTING ALTERNATIVES FOR SINGLE-USE PLASTIC CUPS

Delta tested a reusable cup system and new paper cups, which we are exploring to help eliminate nearly 7 million pounds of single-use plastics on board annually.

MINIMIZING WASTE ONBOARD

The crew separated items such as reusable cups and recyclable materials from general waste, achieving close to zero waste on the domestic flights. Delta is also working to adopt a new process to recycle “pulpable” paper products, including ear bud wrappers, flight fuel boxes and papers cups where possible.

HIGHLIGHTING SUSTAINABLE SUPPLIERS

The in-flight supply chain was customized to highlight Delta’s most sustainable vendors, such as beer and wine partners who are prioritizing organic ingredients, plastic-free packaging and other measures to reduce the lifecycle environmental impacts of their products.

USING SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL (SAF)

Delta partnered with U.S.-based SAF startup, Gevo, and Finnish company, Neste, to source and deliver 8,000 gallons of SAF to ATL and LAX airports.

ELECTRIFYING GROUND SUPPORT EQUIPMENT (GSE)

GSE used in Atlanta and Los Angeles was 100% electric, resulting in lower fuel consumption and CO 2 emissions.

REPLACING SINGLE-USE WATER BOTTLES

In an effort to eliminate single-use plastic water bottles on board, Delta designed and tested a large-volume, reusable water dispenser with a custom base enabling it to fit securely on top of a galley cart.

SOURCING MEALS FROM LOCAL REGENERATIVE FARMS

Delta worked with its sourcing and catering partners to showcase delicious, sustainable options for in-flight meals and snacks. The creative menus included an Earth ice cream, 100% utilization of ingredients, 3-D printed pasta that reduces food waste and more.