United Airlines hires Oscar the Grouch as CTO—Chief Trash Officer


Times are hard on Sesame Street, so hard that Oscar the Grouch has had to leave his trash can to get a job—at United Airlines.

The carrier has appointed the Muppet as its “Chief Trash Officer,” part of its effort to raise consumer awareness of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The campaign will consist of more than 30 videos and other pieces of content, which will follow Oscar’s journey from spotting the job listing to his own C-suite office. He’ll also be featured on planes and even the tarmac.

“Every airline burns jet fuel to run their business, but no airline will solve climate change on its own,” said Josh Earnest, United’s chief communications officer in a statement. “So United has enlisted Oscar to help us educate the traveling public of all ages about SAF and rally them to the cause of fighting climate change. From banana peels to fryer grease, Oscar is uniquely qualified to help us explain why trash could be the treasure that fuels the jets of the future.”

SAF is made largely from recycled food and agricultural waste, and cuts greenhouse emissions by 80% compared to the more frequently used jet fuel. However, it costs up to eight time as much as typical fuel, which is why airlines have been slow to adopt it. By 2030, the industry has vowed to use SAF for 10% of its global fuel supply. (United has vowed to be “100% green” by 2050, eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions without relying on carbon offsets.)

Earlier this year, the head of London’s Heathrow Airport suggested increasing fares for the wealthiest of travelers to cover the costs of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), sparing less wealthy passengers the cost.

United hopes that future SAF can be made from things like household trash or forest waste. To date, the carrier has invested in the future production of over three billion gallons of SAF, which it says is more than any other airline.

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