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Southwest Airlines Wins Award for Innovation in Sustainability

by Daniela Castim

Southwest Airlines has been named a 2023 Sustainability, Environmental Achievement, and Leadership (SEAL) Business Awards winner in the Environmental Initiative category for its investment in SAFFiRE1, a pilot project supporting the development and production of SAF. The SEAL Awards recognize and honor individual programs and initiatives that move the needle on environmental progress and demonstrate leadership toward a sustainable future. “For Southwest®, SAF is the most critical lever we have to achieve our climate goals, which is why we’re supporting initiatives like SAFFiRE,” said Helen Giles, Director Environmental Sustainability at Southwest Airlines®. “In hard-to-abate sectors like the airline industry, driving meaningful progress on environmental sustainability requires every possible tool available. We’re grateful to be recognized by the SEAL Awards for our innovative approach to decarbonization.”

SAF is instrumental in Southwest’s environmental sustainability plan and path to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and Southwest has announced multiple offtake agreements and memoranda of understanding with SAF producers. By 2030, the carrier has set a goal to replace 10% of its total jet fuel consumption with SAF.

In June 2022, Southwest announced its investment in SAFFiRE, a company formed by D3MAX LLC, as part of a Department of Energy (DOE)-backed project to develop and produce scalable SAF. The project is expected to utilize technology developed at the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to convert corn stover, a widely available agricultural residue in the U.S., into renewable ethanol that would then be upgraded into SAF. According to NREL, this could produce significant quantities of cost-competitive SAF.

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