Heathrow Express upcycles waste left on trains to celebrate 20 years of sustainable travel
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Heathrow Express upcycles waste left on trains to celebrate 20 years of sustainable travel

  • 4 Dec 2018

Hand-crafted & upcycled sculptures tell 20-year story of all electric trains, waste reduction and female drivers.

Heathrow Express has marked the 20th anniversary of its 15 minute service from Heathrow Central to London Paddington with a 36-metre long poster campaign created using some of the tons of rubbish left on its trains every year, telling the company’s sustainability story over the past two decades. The posters run along the arrivals walkway at Terminal 2.

GivenLondonHeathrowExpressT2Walkwayfor web

Cups, plastic bottles and free newspapers found left behind on Heathrow Express’ trains have been upcycled into mini works of art by award-winning illustrator and paper sculptor Rebecca Sutherland and photographed for the posters. Hundreds of thousands of travellers using the famous airport express service will now see the company’s sustainability achievements such as how the number of female drivers exceeds the industry average(a), the fact that zero waste goes to landfill from Heathrow Express’ depot, that their fleet of trains are all-electric and that children travel for free.

One of the posters, highlighting the 500 hours of community work Heathrow Express has given, features a typically British plate of fish and chips crafted as a clever, up-cycled paper sculpture. Drink cans have been repurposed, cut and moulded to create salt and pepper pots and a folded knife and fork, with a ring-pull used for the fish eye. Another, illustrating how the train service has helped youngsters find jobs, comprises a collage of tiny silhouettes and figures cut from newspaper pages, showing people at work. 

GivenLondonHeathrowExpressT2Walkwayforweb2

The campaign, which has been devised by brand purpose consultancy Given London, reflects the growing importance of sustainable travel amongst consumers – a reality increasingly recognised by travel providers. Hotel booking platform Booking.com’s 2017 Sustainable Travel Report(b) found that 67 percent of travellers would be willing to spend more on travel options which were more sustainable(c) and TUI has found that its sustainability certified hotels result in better client experiences.

Chris Crauford, Head of Commercial at Heathrow Express said: “This is probably our most ambitious attempt to engage passengers in our sustainability credentials and bring our brand to life in a way that goes beyond the speed, reliability and customer service we’re known for. We’re proud of our position as a sustainable transport option with our diverse workforce, activities in the community and fully electric trains. This campaign has proved to be a striking and impactful way of celebrating 20 years of sustainable travel with Heathrow Express.”

Heathrow Express’ sustainability strategy supports the Heathrow 2.0 strategy for sustainable growth. Each of the themes in the posters feed into the four pillars of Heathrow’s wider sustainability ambitions - being a great place to work, a great place to live, a world worth travelling and a thriving, sustainable economy. In the latest National Passenger Survey, Heathrow Express received a 95 percent overall customer satisfaction rating(d).

Brand purpose consultancy Given London, who also work with Heathrow Airport in delivering their sustainability strategy, won the project following a pitch process. 

Matt Wright, Associate Creative Director at Given London, commented: “We were really impressed by the sustainability work the team at Heathrow Express had been doing, it was exciting to be able to focus on how we could bring what they have achieved alive in a bold and creative way.

“Heathrow Express’ waste credentials stood out particularly, so we asked the question: how can we use the waste that’s left over to help tell the story? The answer was to take the waste that’s left on the trains and upcycle it.

“The materials used for the paper sculptures allowed us to bring alive Heathrow Express’ dramatic reduction of waste from its operations but also provided an aesthetic which is real, tactile and tangible, a hand-crafted look and a personal feel which we felt would resonate strongly with consumers.”

The upcycled sculptures were created by illustrator and paper sculptor Rebecca Sutherland. Sutherland said: “My thinking was to create things that touched that sweet spot between being seen as refuse and a visually stunning image. It’s strange to say, but when I was clearing up from the project, I had around 15 cups left over. It seemed strange to throw them in the bin. They had been a resource all week. They had been as valuable as my pencil or my scissors.”

(a)One third of the drivers on the Heathrow Express route are female
(b)https://news.booking.com/bookingcoms-2017-sustainable-travel-report/
(c)Travel Weekly: http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/articles/309313/tui-says-sustainability-certified-hotels-result-in-better-client-experience
(d)Spring 2018, latest National Passenger Survey: https://www.transportfocus.org.uk/research-publications/publications/national-rail-passenger-survey-nrps-spring-2018-main-report/


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