United Airlines is taking bold steps to improve efficiency throughout its organisation with the launch of a new supply chain scheme.

The Sustainable Supply Chain (SSC) initiative is a way in which the US company can get a better insight into the environmental performance of its suppliers and assess ways in which it can improve standards moving forward. It will also help to form stronger relationships between its various partners and is a statement of intent from the firm as it looks to become a focal point for the aviation sector's drive to promote environmental responsibility. United's plan is to encourage sustainability throughout the industry and hopefully entice more companies to follow it lead.

United is one of the biggest airlines in the world flying to 78 destinations across the US and 108 international airports scanning Asia, Americas, Europe, Oceania and Africa. The SSC is designed at ensuring that the company is doing all it can to prevent any excess emissions being put into the atmosphere whether this is with its aircraft or throughout the supply chain and delivery of parts.

The SSC will measure and evaluate the sustainability of United's current suppliers' products and operations through the medium of a survey. It will canvass views from those partners in the high-risk industries as well as members of the airline's strategic supplier community which carry out the supply chain jobs. Once these studies are complete, United will look to establish targets for improvement which will be presented to its supplier by 2014.

Speaking about the implications of the new initiative, Jimmy Samartzis, United’s managing director of global environmental affairs and sustainability, said: “We are pleased to launch this program that demonstrates our commitment to working with key supply chain partners on environmental issues.

"We will not only incorporate environmental considerations into our purchasing decisions, but will also seek to identify opportunities to collaborate with our suppliers to improve the environmental profile of the products and services we use.”