Virgin Atlantic is set to adopt a new, lower carbon fuel that has been converted from waste plastics as part of a new partnership with chemical conversion technology firm Agilyx.
The collaboration spans the Virgin Group, including Virgin Orbit, and aims to tackle both the plastic problem and carbon emissions.
“We cannot keep wasting all of this plastic, throwing it away, littering our oceans… this is valuable material,” Agilyx CEO Tim Stedman told City A.M. yesterday.
Virgin Group and Agilyx aim to reuse plastic waste, sourced from Cyclyx, to produce synthetic crude oil that will then be refined into a lower carbon fuel.
While it is not yet known how many flights using this lower carbon fuel will save due to the certification process, Stedman emphasised how there is “no ambiguity” around its carbon benefits, in comparison with current jet fuels.
“The key thing here is that this is an innovative, fast moving, project. We’re aiming together with Virgin to have real impact, at real scale, in this challenge we have with waste and the need to move to a lower carbon economy and eventually net zero,” continued Stedman.
“It’s very exciting, a first step in a journey that’ll really help us deliver on both angles.”
It follows Virgin Atlantic’s deal with Neste Oyi for its own ‘Sustainable Aviation Fuel’, announced last week, which will be delivered in the first half of 2022 to London Heathrow – and forms part of the airline’s target of having 10 per cent of its fuels emit lower levels of carbon by 2030.
The first waste-to-fuel facility is planned to be in the US, though both companies have their sights set on a UK plant in the future, in a bid to bring manufacturing closer to Virgin’s base.
The conversion process itself can even be aligned with net zero, in using electricity as a source of heat which can be 100 per cent renewable, Stedman explained.
Virgin Group CEO Josh Bayliss added: “Innovation and entrepreneurship are important tools to address the climate crisis.
“Virgin and other companies have an important role to play in meeting those challenges… The creation of lower carbon fuel is an important step in the journey towards net zero.”