May 21, 2022

Bags of ideas

April Waterston explores how amenity suppliers are considering sustainability in their kit designs

There are multiple facets to consider when assessing an amenity kit’s sustainable credentials. Everything from the materials used and its construction, to the provenance of its contents and the kits reusability play a role in minimising its environmental impact.

Finding the right balance between all these things, and identifying what is truly sustainable is no mean feat. With that in mind, we caught up with five key amenity kit suppliers to discover how they’re creating greener options for airline buyers with sustainability on their minds.

Kaelis

“If the circular economy is the heart, sustainability is the heartbeat,” says Manoj Pridhanani creative director, head of product & sustainability at Kaelis. “It is at the core, right from inception, throughout the development process, production and even in the afterlife of products to make sure we close the loop.

Pridhanani runs me through Kaelis’ design and development process. “We start with the fabric: Choosing the right material is essential and today advanced technology allows us to create magic. Up-cycling waste, we transform it into yarn and versatile fabrics, cleaning up the landfills. For a greener tomorrow, a cleaner tomorrow. These new sustainable materials are then recycled ‘closing the loop.’

“Choosing the correct form also ensures we are keep waste to a minimum, we design with in-depth knowledge of the production process so creativity blends in with intelligence, driving efficient processes.

“Most important is the functionality. At the design stage, we work to make products versatile and ergonomic to extend their life whoever receives it – useful to both the tech-savvy person, for example, and the fashion enthusiast.”

In 2019, Kaelis worked on an amenity kit for Air Europa. Its aim was to reduce the use of plastic, which it did so by removing all the plastic packaging from the kit, substituting with kraft paper bands. Kaelis also partnered with a sustainable cosmetic brand, The Rerum Natura, with eco packaging. These sustainable elements played a big role in Kaelis’ Onboard Hospitality Awards 2020 win, bagging the company the Best Business Class Amenity Kit Award.

Pridhanani continues. “It is our responsibility to focus on sustainability. In order to be relevant tomorrow, we have to be an integral part of the change today!”

Kaelis has recently embarked on what it is calling Mission ECO, which focuses on recycled and recyclable materials as well as the process and the re-usability of products. It is gearing up towards a sustainable business model and closed-loop infrastructure model. Mission ECO is divided it into five branches: ECO Life, ECO Style, ECO Waves, ECO Mode and ECO Effect. This is an action plan to be a part of the 2030 Global Sustainable Goals.

“This is the start of the journey, and even though the goal may feel like a distant dream, every small step takes us closer,” concludes Pridhanani. “We want to bring about behavioural change in the travel industry and have been inspired to do so by the travellers – they are more conscious today, more aware. We have faced hurdles and come out stronger, with greater zest to achieve our goal.”

WESSCO

WESSCO’s latest green-kit venture comes in the form of LATAM’s new “Eco Kits”. Designed for passengers travelling in Premium Business, the kits are based on local design and highlight the gradual incorporation of sustainability. The bags are designed to be reusable, versatile and unique, making them collectable and long-lasting.

In keeping with LATAM and WESSCO’s commitment to eliminating single-use plastics, the bag is delivered without packaging, and includes reusable materials such as a bamboo toothbrush and a sugar cane cap. The earplug packaging is made of kraft paper to minimise the use of plastic, and the socks and masks are made of recycled plastic.

The toiletry bag includes cosmetic products (hand cream, lip balm and a refreshing towel) produced by Feito Brasil, a B-Corp certified brand (recognising management in the financial, social and environmental fields) and its development pillars focus on sustainability through cruelty-free and vegan, natural ingredients, raw materials and local production, as well as being handmade by local craftswomen.

Buzz

Australia-based Buzz has launched a new eco-friendly amenity kit which it has aptly named ‘All Good Things’.

With the environmental impact of travel in sharp focus, and in support of the IATA target of a 50% reduction in aviation CO2 emissions by 2050, the Buzz sustainability team set itself a challenge to design a plastic-free and zero waste amenity kit.

The All Good Things amenity kit is designed to help travellers feel good, knowing that their onboard comfort items are designed with their environmental footprint considered.

The kit features renewable materials including tin, cotton canvas, aluminium, bamboo, FSC paper, and wood. Also included are ToothChews, an innovative, environmentally-friendly alternative to toothpaste, that does away with the tube and saves water.

Through a ‘Join the Movement’ programme, Buzz has also worked alongside its airline partners to remove 13 million polybags from circulation.

“We are on a journey to zero waste and we are committed to using our design innovation to help protect our planet”, said Leonard Hamersfeld, director. 

Linstol

Linstol has recently upped its focus on sustainability with the appointment of Bill Carrejo as director of sustainable operations.

Newest among its output is a blanket kit for Air Transat which features products made from post-consumer recycled materials, and contains no excess plastic packaging. “Previously, it came in a plastic bag, which the passenger would open, take the blanket out, and find inside another plastic bag with an eye mask,” Carrejo explains. “There were also ear plugs in a plastic bag, and a pair of socks in a plastic bag. We replaced the plastic with recycled cardboard or paper board, and now it just has a band around it that tells the passenger, ‘I used to be a plastic bag’.”

Going forward, reusability is key. Linstol’s collectible kit for United commemorating the airline’s retired 747s is a prime example – the kit was made of recyclable aluminium and came in four different collectible themes. “When we design amenity kits the first thought is always ‘what’s the best material we can use that gives this kit a chance to be more than single use?’ We design our kits to have a level of value.

“The goal is to find the best way to remove, reduce or replace plastic items with those that can be sustainable and meet the goals for the identity of the airline.  We know it is a process that can happen one step at a time, moving one product at at time towards sustainability.”

FORMIA

FORMIA is aiming to transform its entire business to be truly sustainable. Its goal is to become a net-zero carbon company by 2030 and offer net-zero carbon amenity kits as of 2022.

With dedicated internal groups led by FORMIA’s sustainability lead and subject matter expert, Sarah Klatt-Walsh, FORMIA has developed a highly-focused, action-led framework and objectives which aim to bring about data-driven change and impacts that can be measured, in order to help it achieve its targets.

In the past few months, FORMIA has focused on three of its five key sustainability targets: net-zero carbon, circularity as a service, and expanding its meaningful partnerships.

“There is much interest from our airline customers and other stakeholders in our net-zero carbon activities,” says Klatt-Walsh. “Together with REBEL, our sustainability partner, we have made initial steps towards achieving this target by conducting product lifecycle impact analysis and measuring our corporate greenhouse gas emissions.”

One of FORMIA’s first initiatives to reduce its environmental impact was introduced in 2021 when it began transitioning the virgin polyester in inflight socks and eye masks to 100% recycled PET.

To date, FORMIA claims this has saved 568 tons of greenhouse emissions in CO2-eq, equal to 125 cars driving on the road for a year, and in terms of energy, 16’160 GJ-eq (GigaJoule-eq) which equates to the energy required to run 3,500 US households for one year.

Another goal of FORMIA is to become more circular by nature, and to offer circularity as a service. “As a given, we design our amenity kits with the end in mind so that they can be reused, refurbished, recycled, and/or composted,” says Klatt-Walsh. “This helps prevent kits from ending up in landfill or being incinerated.

“This can be achieved in several ways – for example, through the use of mono-materials that can be recycled and/or composted, removing as many “extras” as possible, such as zippers, buttons, additional lining, etc, and designing the bags in such a way that they can be easily open, emptied, refreshed and refilled.”

Skysupply

Skysupply’s most recent sustainability-focused kit has been designed for SWISS. Featuring products made of kraft paper and paper pulp, the kit is largely designed to reduce plastic waste. It aims to be a simple, functional, and resource-saving amenity kit with eco credentials to boot.

Passengers who depart from Zurich receive the Kraft Paper Kit, which – just like the Paper Pulp Kit – includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, a sleeping mask and earplugs stored in a small pouch. Whilst the bag is light, tear-resistant, and washable, it has been cleverly designed to mimic the look and feel of leather, with functionality to encourage use in everyday life post-flight.

Plane Talking Products

Going plastic-free is at the top of the agenda for Plane Talking Products (PTP). The team is currently working on what it hopes will be a 100% plastic-free and biodegradable amenity kit. 

Key to the kit’s anticipated success is a partnership with UK-based sustainable cosmetics brand, Scence. The brand boasts a 100% vegan certification and fully-compostable packaging across a range of products from lip balms to deodorants. Ethically-sourced ingredients make up a selection of refreshing scents including Sweet Citrus, Earthy Spice and Fragrant Berry. 

“My brief was to find a truly plastic free, sustainable brand to be part of a wider fully eco friendly amenity kit,” explained Bryony Koziol, designer at PTP. “Scence ticks all the boxes and they are brilliant to work with. We really love their ethos and values and most importantly, we love the products – my personal favourite is the fresh mint lip balm.”

Other innovations will include a gel toothpaste capsule encapsulated in a consumable plant-based film, and the use of alternative materials such as seaweed, toxin-free textiles and coffee grounds. The kit is currently being refined, and the team at PTP hopes to launch with a complete prototype at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) in Hamburg this June. Watch this space!

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