Julie Baxter and Jo Austin
Airlines need focused and knowledgeable partners to support their sustainability efforts onboard. Here Julie Baxter and Jo Austin highlight some of the innovators in action
Beyond the dream of bio-fuels and electric aircraft, airlines serious about sustainability are reassessing every element of the supply chain and onboard product for eco alternatives. Here are just some suppliers trying to help…
Albéa Travel Designer is the first cosmetic packaging company to sign the New Global Plastic Commitment from the Ellen McArthur Foundation.This sets ambitious goals on cutting new plastics and requires 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable or recyclable by 2025. It also supports SPICE, the Sustainable Packaging Initiative for Cosmetics which is focused on evolving sustainable cosmetics packaging.
The company has a range of ‘I was a banana’ kits made using vegetal fibres. The kits use plant-based fibre materials and are part of an initiative to focus on re-using unwanted products. The fibre is made from the waste matter of banana, pineapple and bamboo production. It is also looking at upcycling opportunities to give airline seats, marketing materials or uniforms a second life; and has developed amenity kits using recycled paper, scrap leather, recycled PET and corn starch. Maxime Ridoux, brand partnership manager, says: “Sustainability is not just a trend now, it is an essential part of an airline’s brief.”
Bayart Innovations has been looking to the eco solutions of other industries to find alternatives for inflight. It has already launched a new cork kit and ‘click clack’ snap fastenings that require no zips, and has other sustainable kit solutions still under wraps. “The challenge is to go from talking about eco options to actions, and the price is key. We are working on making things competitive by finding new solutions. Pressure is coming from the political side and international legislation but there is still a lot of greenwashing rather than real change. Once you are convinced you have a good solution you can work to educate the passenger and customer to appreciate the change proposed,” says ceo Albert Facques.
Buzz has three principles of conscious design: Designed For Keeps – making products that customers cherish and reuse post flight; Better Materials – using more sustainable materials; Better Practices – evolving best practices with verified, ethical and reliable processes. Key achievements to date include 95 million plastic bottles diverted from landfill by the end of 2019 with ecoTHREAD blankets for Emirates and EVA Air; 13 million singleuse plastic products eliminated by end 2019; 11 sustainable programmes delivered globally.
En Route launched a ‘Four The Future’ strategy at WTCE built on four principles: to reduce unnecessary packaging without harming performance, remove non-renewable materials which cannot be composted or recycled, replace environmentally damaging materials with kinder alternatives, and reimagine service design and delivery to reduce environmental impact.
Its customers are placing a growing emphasis on reducing environmental impacts and En Route has implemented environmental KPIs as a part of its process to further drive improved outcomes.
Richard Wake, creative and marketing director, says: “It is really encouraging to see that, almost without exception, every brief we receive now includes a significant proportion on environmental queries and consideration.”
Committed to ceasing the manufacture of skincare packaging with 100% virgin plastic by the end of 2020. Created Virgin Atlantic’s new kraft paper Goodie Bags (see page 68); a recycled PET bag for British Airways and supplied bamboo toothbrushes for Air New Zealand cutting over 60 tons of plastic. Kenny Harmel, director of sustainability, says: “This is only the start for us in our ongoing efforts to minimise waste and incorporate more environmentally-friendly materials into our supply chain and offerings. More initiatives will follow.
Equipment subsidary, deSter, is working to create a circular economy in aviation food packaging and equipment. Its whole portfolio will be solely comprised of these products by 2025. Plastic alternatives include fibre-based products and compostable materials. Innovations include the 100% bio-based SAS cube and cutlery which aims to cut weight by 9,7 tonnes and CO2 emissions by 15% a year. It has supplied plastic-free paper cups for Transavia and the industry’s first soil and marine biodegradable cutlery.
Gispol has launched an ‘environmentally-sensible’ line of cutlery and table set-ups, combining recycled polymer and sustainably-sourced wood fibres, said to eliminate 50% plastic use and reduce the carbon footprint for tableware by 55%.
The Global-C team is passionate about striking a balance between quality, function and value. It won an Onboard Hospitality Award for the Qantas ovenable Noodle Box and is about to launch a compostable or recyclable version of this, as well as a liquid-proof Hot Meal Box which replaces the PET coating with a special material that is ovenable, leak proof, food approved and fully compostable. It was also recognised with an award for its initiative to develop a closed-loop recycling programme for inflight food service products which is currently in trial with one major airline.
Global Inflight Products
Designs and manufactures environmentallyfriendly products for passengers. Its Green Is Possible line includes natural, biodegradable and recyclable products, such as birch and bamboo stirsticks, napkins, cups and even rubbish bags.
Product designers and textile engineers are turning their attention to packaging-free and added-value design detail to ensure onboard textiles have a longer life and don’t end up in landfill sites. While eco-blankets made from recycled plastic bottles may seem a solution, the company highlights the fact that these fleece fabrics, while cosy and serviceable, do shed microfibres into the water supply. The team favours woven fabrics with a higher spun yarn that doesn’t shed and can enhance the passenger experience too. It is pioneering a textile recycling programme through which it takes back onboard blankets and redistributes them to charities or recycle. Many fabrics can have a second life in other industries including within building and insulation products.
IN Air Travel Experience
Has developed the IN.bowl, which rethinks service delivery to offer a larger meal with fewer service items in an holistic, sustainable concept designed to reduce costs, catering, complexity, handling and waste. It is estimated to cut the need for single-use plastics by 55-100%, generating space and weight savings.
Kaelis is committed to providing OBS eco-friendly solutions which include products made of recyclable materials; rotatable equipment with high-quality materials; and special materials to replace single-use plastics. Its portfolio includes items from bamboo, PLA/CPLA, wood, palm leaf, rice husk or sugar cane (bagasse).
Linstol has launched a line of biodegradable disposable bamboo napkins made from 100% renewable natural bamboo fibres with a lower carbon footprint than reusable alternatives. More absorbent than standard linen napkins, the range is available in dinner and cocktail sizes and can carry the airline branding. “These complement our growing range of eco-friendly cabin products, such as the Linstol Super Cup,” says Bill Carrejo, Linstol’s director of sales and sustainability.
Malton BioD designs and manufactures plantbased compostable foodservice packaging, sourced from renewable, low carbon or recycled materials.
MNH Sustainable Cabin Services works with Virgin Atlantic to redesign, reuse and recycle non-catering waste. Headsets are specifically designed for reconditioning and re-use with the sponge padding used to surface equestrian centres; while plastics can be reconstituted to make picnic benches. Headsets are wrapped in Virgin’s charity envelopes – saving 16 tonnes of plastic a year. MNH looks for the best ‘end of life’ option too for inflight textiles and amenity kits, diverting from landfill using stringent raw material segregation and recycling.
Orvec’s Spunbond Polypropylene (SBPP) nonwoven products and Luna range are 100% recyclable. Recycled fills are also available for pillows and RPET fabrics are becoming more common, although expensive. Eco-friendly earth inks are also now available for printing (cutting out oil-based inks and solvents). BCI cotton (Better Cotton Initiative) grown in a way that reduces stress on the local environment and improves local livelihoods is also part of the portfolio.
RMT Global Partners
RMT reports growing demand for smaller inflight items with eco credentials and has added sustainable bar items to its portfolio including compostable paper drinking straws and sustainably sourced bamboo and birch stir sticks.
Working with airlines worldwide to support sustainable long term solutions across the inflight experience. The team implements Life Cycle Analyses and runs stakeholder workshops to identify need and develop new materials to use across the whole value chain as well as designing processes which will foster the circular economy.
Skysupply exercises as many best practices as it can across its design to delivery model to ensure sustainability and ethnic sourcing are a major focus of its value proposition. It also looks to reduce mileage in the supply chain through efficiency in logistics, and replaces plastics with more recyclable materials as a matter of course. Kits and amenities are also being packaged differently and sourced with greater integrity.
Over the past six months, WK Thomas has been developing new cutlery and sealing films to address the need for more sustainable pre-packed cutlery onboard. It believes it is the first company in the UK to launch recycled cutlery made from 97% recycled plastic – rPET. The team believes there are strong environmental arguments for using disposables made from recyclable materials even where legislation on food waste makes end of life disposal prohibitive. The lifecycle of a material is the key consideration. It is also using renewable resources such as natural birch ply cutlery and cpla (cornstarch) utensils which can be composted with food waste. These can be paired with a fully compostable paper of film wrapper, condiment kit and a sustainably-sourced napkin.
Made of 100% renewable resources and BPIcertified compostable, VerTerra’s Dinnerware From Fallen Leaves is a sustainable alternative to paper and plastic plates. No felled trees, chemicals, waxes, dyes or additives are used in the production. The company also offers collapsable catering boxes and cheese/charcuterie boards made of balsa wood with a rice paper liner. Michael Dwork, ceo, says: “There is no magical unicorn when it comes to choosing the right sustainable product – that doesn’t exist. We have to have some very frank conversations about eco products and the costs because this is a new market. There are so many intermediaries in the supply chain claiming to go green that airlines are getting very mixed messages about what is best. Take steps to learn what is out there, commit to thoughtful, deliberate change. Companies can go horribly wrong if they just throw everything away and claim great green credentials with something new. Take a step by step, informed approach.”