Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech Named 2013 Observer Ethical Award Winners

Award for Business Initiative recognizes partnership to commercialize low-carbon, cost-competitive aviation biofuels

Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech, a producer of low-carbon fuels and chemicals from waste gases, have been named as joint winner of the 2013 Observer Ethical Award in the Business Initiative category for their partnership to commercialise sustainable, low-carbon aviation biofuels. The Award is timely as the global aviation industry gathers this week at the Paris Air Show with sustainability and sustainable aviation fuels a major focus at the show.

The Observer Ethical Awards celebrate the projects, businesses, ideas, campaigns and activists making sustainable change a reality. Criteria include whether the business is ethical and commercially viable, whether it is leading is sector, and if it inspires others. The winners were announced at a ceremony in London informally known as ‘the green Oscars’.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have won this award – it’s inspiring and humbling to be in the company of such amazing award nominees and winners,” said Emma Harvey, Virgin Atlantic’s Head of Sustainability. “People often assume that sustainability and aviation are a contradiction in terms but as for any industry, we’re demonstrating that it is possible to pursue ground- breaking low carbon solutions for our business, whilst preserving the significant social and economic benefits that aviation brings. We’re delighted to be working with the LanzaTech team on their pioneering, next generation sustainable fuel and are doing all we can to make sure this becomes a commercial reality.”

“It is a great honour to be recognized for our partnership with Virgin Atlantic, given the company’s demonstrated commitment to sustainability across all aspects of its operations,” said Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “The coming global availability of low carbon jet fuel made from waste materials will enable more sustainable air travel, a key goal of Virgin Atlantic and the entire aviation industry.”

LanzaTech has developed innovative technology that converts local, highly abundant, waste and low-cost resources into sustainable, valuable commodities. The patented process uses a microbe to convert waste gas containing CO or CO2 (from industrial sources like steel mills and processing plants) or synthetic gas generated from any biomass resource into low carbon fuels and chemicals. LanzaTech estimates that its process can apply to 65 percent of the world’s steel mills, offering the potential to provide 19 percent of the world’s current jet fuel demand, and an overall reduction in greenhouse gases by 50-60 percent compared to traditional jet fuel.

Virgin Atlantic’s vision is to be a leading airline on sustainability, driving solutions for the whole industry through its Change is in the Air sustainability programme. Its number one priority is to be as fuel and carbon efficient as possible. For example, its 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliners to be delivered next year will be up to 27% more fuel and carbon efficient than the aircraft they will replace, and Virgin’s work on sustainable fuels is certainly pushing boundaries in the pursuit of low carbon alternatives to traditional kerosene.

This year’s awards attracted a record-breaking number of votes from the general public. There were 10 categories in total and the shortlist of nominees was decided by a mix of votes and judge’s decisions. The judging panel consisted of leading figures across science, culture and business, including Livia Firth, creative director of Eco Age & co-founder of The Green Carpet Challenge; Emma Howard Boyd, sustainable investment & governance director, Jupiter Asset Management; James Wong, TV Presenter; Ben Fogle TV Presenter; Deborah Meaden, businesswoman and Dragon’s Den star; Paralympian Martine Wright; and Lucy Siegle, Observer ethical living columnist, BBC One Show presenter and chair of judging panel.

In March 2013, Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech won the Sustainable Biofuels Award presented by World Biofuels Markets. Last week, LanzaTech was named as one of the world’s top 100 sustainable solutions by Sustainia 100. LanzaTech was selected for the positive social, economic and environmental impact the company’s gas fermentation technology will have on local communities.

About Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic flies to 36 destinations worldwide, including locations across North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Far East and Australia. Some of the recent additions to its flying network include Cancun, Vancouver and Mumbai and Virgin has now launched its domestic flying programme with flights to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. It currently flies 5.5 million passengers a year.

Virgin Atlantic has enjoyed huge popularity, winning top business, consumer and trade awards from around the world and was recently placed 8th in the UK Coolest Brands League. The airline has pioneered a range of innovations setting new standards of service, which its competitors have subsequently sought to follow. Despite Virgin Atlantic’s growth the service still remains customer driven with an emphasis on value for money, quality, fun and innovation.

Virgin Atlantic currently has a fleet of aircraft which includes 747-400s, A340-300s, A340-600s and A330- 300s. The airline is expecting delivery of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliners from 2014.

About LanzaTech
LanzaTech is a leader in gas fermentation technology. It provides novel and economic routes to fuels and high value chemicals from waste gas streams. LanzaTech’s unique process provides a sustainable pathway to produce platform chemicals that serve as building blocks to products that have become indispensable in our lives such as rubber, plastics, synthetic fibers and fuels.

LanzaTech’s technology solutions mitigate carbon emissions from industry without adversely impacting food or land security. With two commercial facilities in China slotted for construction in 2013 and full operation in 2014, LanzaTech, a company founded in New Zealand, is now a global organization.

Source: LanzaTech, press release, 2013-06-17.