Earlier this week British Airways announced it will build a plant to convert landfill waste to jet fuel, and use the fuel by 2014.
This is a big step forwarding for aviation & the environment, a topic I've been interested in, but naysayers are doubting the plan. From The Independent:
BA is adamant that the plant will be powered only by rubbish, and will not resort to using biomass crops grown specifically to be turned into fuel. But environmental campaigners are sceptical, pointing to automotive biofuel initiatives that ended up with a greater carbon footprint and a destructive global impact by replacing food crops.
"Biofuels for cars were meant to be a way of using waste cooking oil, but fuel companies ended up taking food away from the poor and trashing rainforests to make way for biofuel crop plantations," said Kenneth Richter, the biofuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth.
Richter is dead-on correct that some biofuels, like ethanol, are more detrimental that regular fuel. But BA is indicating it will only use rubbish, not crops. That's similar to the pact Boeing made with its biofuel test flight partner Air New Zealand.
Under the pact, one of the non-negotiable criteria for sourcing biofuels was:
the fuel source must be environmentally sustainable and not compete with existing food resources
That criteria is critical, and as long as it is honoured--including by BA--we're on a path for a cleaner aviation industry.