Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

Video: United’s New ‘Chief Trash Officer’ Is Oscar the Grouch

The Sesame Street character is the face of the airline's campaign to raise awareness around the benefits of sustainable aviation fuel

by Fergus Cole

March 17, 2023

Photo: United Names Oscar the Grouch as First Chief Trash Officer. Courtesy of PRNewsfoto / United Airlines

United Airlines has introduced Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street as its new ‘Chief Trash Officer’ as part of its sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) awareness campaign.

United is currently running a consumer education campaign focused on raising awareness around the benefits of SAF and teaching people of all ages about the possibility of recycling household trash into a greener alternative to traditional jet fuel.

The Chicago-based airline has now recruited Oscar the Grouch, a character from the much-loved children’s TV series Sesame Street, to be the face of its campaign. The green furry creature will feature in over thirty pieces of video, digital, and social media content, from physical billboards to United’s onboard inflight entertainment systems and YouTube and Hulu videos.

The mascot is being used to raise awareness around SAF, which is expected to be used more and more in the coming years as airlines worldwide attempt to reduce carbon emissions on their flights. SAF is created from used cooking oil or agricultural waste but could soon also use household and forest waste as feedstock.

SAF: The Future of Flying Sustainably

United has invested more in SAF than any other U.S. airline, having already committed to producing three billion gallons of the new fuel alternative. The airline has plans to cut its carbon emissions entirely and become 100 percent sustainable by 2050 without relying on carbon offsets.

According to United, it was also the first major airline in the U.S. to display estimates of a flight’s carbon footprint per economy seat when passengers are booking flights on the carrier’s website or app.

It has also established the United Airlines Venture fund, which will invest in companies and tech to help the airline industry reduce emissions. United passengers are also allowed to donate to its sustainability fund, and it is hoped that the new campaign with Oscar the Grouch will encourage more people to do so.

Photo: Courtesy of United Airlines

“United has invested in more sustainable aviation fuel production than any airline in the world, by far,” said Josh Earnest, Chief Communications Officer at United Airlines. “Every airline burns jet fuel to run their business, but no airline will solve climate change on its own.”

“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 our future.”

And according to Jennifer Ahearn, Vice President of Global Strategic Partnerships & Themed Entertainment at Sesame Workshop, the campaign “provided a special opportunity to showcase an iconic Sesame Street character, Oscar the Grouch, celebrating what he loves best—trash. The amazing collaboration helps United Airlines explain in simpler terms the technology of turning trash into fuel in a fun and engaging manner.”