Cathay Pacific broke new ground when it liked a fuel-from-garbage firm so much that it bought into the company.

Its biofuel manager, Jeff Ovens, says he was presented with a blank canvas in 2009 when the Hong Kong-based airline began looking into new ways of helping to power its fleet.
Back then, a looming European Union emissions trading scheme (ETS) was providing the impetus for airlines to look at what they could do to cut their carbon footprint.

While the ETS was put on ice, within Cathay Pacific there was an acknowledgement that there would be a global scheme covering all airlines - as was signed last year.

Ovens says Cathay developed its own target - carbon-neutral growth from 2020 - and put out feelers for companies making fuels from different kinds of feedstock.

Three years later, it took the unusual step of making an equity investment in United States biofuel developer Fulcrum Bioenergy.

There is also an agreement to take 1.4 billion litres of biofuel over 10 years, starting from 2019, once the manufacturing plant is finished.

"Other airlines were aligning themselves for an offtake agreement and nothing else," says Ovens.