Qantas and Jetstar have announced an end to paper boarding passes as part of a group-wide waste reduction initiative unveiled today by chief executive Alan Joyce.

Reporting a profit drop of 16.3 per cent to $498 million for the six months to the end of December — blamed on a big jump in fuel costs — Mr Joyce also said the carrier would replace boarding passes with paper-free alternatives.

“Reducing our waste isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good for business,” he said.

“It will take time, but we’re already starting – and we’ll be asking our industry, regulators, customers and our people to help.”

The 50 million passengers carried by the airline group last year generated 30,000 tonnes of rubbish.

As well as aiming to cut electricity use by almost 40 per cent by 2020, the ambitious initiative will target a 75 per cent reduction in waste sent to landfill from Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar operations.

That includes removing 100 million single-use plastic items a year by 2021, recycling staff uniforms and composting or donating more food

“It’s the highest waste reduction target set by any airline in the world and it goes well beyond the recent European Union ban on single-use plastics in scope and speed,” Mr Joyce said.

“Our coffee cups will be recycled. Our boarding passes and crew manuals will be replaced with paper-free alternatives.

“Even plastic frequent flyer cards are going digital.”

The group also announced a $305 million buyback and raised its interim dividend from 7˘ to 12˘.

It expects fuel cost growth to moderate in the second half, falling from 27 per cent in the six months to December 31 to 21 per cent over the full year.

“Higher oil prices were a significant headwind and we moved quickly to recover as much of the cost as we could,” Mr Joyce said.

“That’s easier to achieve in the domestic market than on longer international routes, where fuel is a much bigger factor, and that’s reflected in the segment results.”