Date Posted 12/06/2019
On World Environment Day every organisation appears to be spruiking their own unique way that they are helping out our planet and doing their own bit for the environment.
Sure, we all live in a society of bio-degradable shopping bags, bamboo cutlery and paper drinking straws but one company in particular has come up with an innovative way to minimise wastage and re-use a product that usually gets discarded over and over again throughout the year.
Emirates, one of the biggest airline carriers in the world in the world  announced a very ingenious way to give their old adverting billboards in South Africa a new lease of live and reinvent they way they have traditionally been discarded of.
The PVC Flex material was transformed into hundreds of reusable bags, and no they weren’t just the usual supermarket single use shopping bags- they were produced into amazing backpacks and decorative totes.
Across South Africa the huge advertising banners were collected from major billboards throughout the country, often the ones we see in Australia on the side of the road and on major traffic hot spots throughout the city.
Over 517 square meters of the PVC material was collected, which is roughly half the size of an Olympic sized swimming pool. The heavy-duty material was then sent to Johannesburg, where Raymond Phiri of Motion Bags was commissioned by Emirates to design and create these bags.
Mr. Phiri along with his team and support from Just Bags helped bring the vision to life, in total they produced 200 school bags (backpacks) and 125 tote bags, creating a total of 325 items.
“Partnering with local entrepreneur Raymond Phiri to create items that will bring joy to children, will only strengthen the close bonds Emirates already has with South Africa and its people.” Said Fouad Caunhye, Regional Manager of Emirates Southern Africa.
In a sign of sustainability and making a positive impact the upcycled advertising banner school bags were donated to Emfundisweni Primary School in Alexandra.
“The movement towards sustainable living is now more important than ever, and we need to take an active role to reduce our carbon footprint and make an impact where we can.” Said Fouad Caunhye, Regional Manager of Emirates Southern Africa.
The bags have been made super strong and they will out last the children’s schooling life, they are also water resistant so there is no worry of the rain damaging their school work, and most importantly they look awesome. I can actually say that I’m kind of jealous with their unique Emirates branded bags.
“This project is very close to my heart because I know what it’s like not to have a bag for school when the other children do.”Raymond Phiri, owner of Motion Bags.
Mr. Caunhye along with representatives from the local Emirates office in Johannesburg visited the primary school to hand over the bags to 200 students. Included in the bags was a selection of stationery and activity books.
“To see the happy faces of our students when they received their new bags, was such a delight”Thembakazi Giyama, Principal of Emfundisweni Primary School in Alexandra.
“I’d like to thank Emirates for putting this fantastic initiative together. It is all the more special knowing that the spirit and sentiment behind these bags is the sustainable future of our children.” Said Thembakazi Giyama, Principal of Emfundisweni Primary School in Alexandra.
This is just one of the many ways that Emirates continues to be an environmentally responsible airline. Since 2017, Emirates has introduced various sustainable practices which includes blankets provided on board produced from 100% recycled plastic bottles. It is estimated that by the end of this year these blankets would have saved over 88 million plastic bottles from landfill.
The airline has also stopped washing its aircraft using millions of litres of water each year, they have adopted a washing technique referred to a ‘drywash’ which sees a huge reduction in water usage and also makes the aircraft more fuel-efficient saving on emissions.
Other environmentally efficient initiatives the airline has implemented include solar voltaic panels which generate over 1,800 megawatt hours of electricity each year – saving up to 800 tonnes in carbon emissions.
 Zhang, B. (2019). The 20 biggest airlines in the world, ranked. [online] Business Insider Australia. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/biggest-airlines-world-oag-2019-3?r=US&IR=T [Accessed 11 Jun. 2019].