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Air NZ sets its sights on sustainability with eco-serviceware

written by Isabella Richards | September 24, 2021
Air New Zealand trials plastic-less serviceware (Air New Zealand)

Air New Zealand has announced a new trial to test eco-serviceware in its international economy cabins, set to reduce plastic use and carbon emissions.

The flag carrier said the COVID-19 pandemic enabled a “chance to accelerate” its efforts in increasing sustainability.

It comes as airlines across the globe boost long-term sustainability – whether its sustainable aviation fuels or reducing single-use plastics – after increased pressure from consumers.

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The Auckland-based airline said it recently tested two casserole dish materials including bagasse, made from the remains of sugarcane, and re-usable rotable plastic.

The choice or re-using certain products follows in the footsteps of its previous efforts to recycle unused in-flight products, such as bottled water, tea and cookies.

Air New Zealand also used birchwood cutlery as an alternative on four Rarotonga flights, and according to Leanne Geraghty, chief customer and sales officer, the company will trial bamboo cutlery in the future to see “what works best”.

“We’re on a journey to reduce the impact of our serviceware on the environment by moving away from single-use plastics and trialling more sustainable serviceware,” she said.

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She said the pandemic gave the airline an opportunity to “move towards more sustainable alternatives in flight” which is a key focus of the company’s strategy.

“The serviceware flying today was designed more than a decade ago,” Geraghty added.

“With an acute awareness of the impacts of plastic pollution, we’re delivering serviceware that is designed for the culinary experiences of the future and reduces vast amounts of single-use plastic.”

Geraghty said Air New Zealand expects to rollout the bio-packaging across its entire network in the future.

In 2018, Air New Zealand raised its plans to cut single-use plastics to 55 million, above its 24 million target the year before.

As the flag carrier of New Zealand, the airline has spearheaded sustainability above competing domestic carriers.

The company won Green Airline of the year in 2020 on an Australian comparison website, Finder.

Qantas, Australia’s flag carrier, announced in 2019 it aimed to eliminate 100 million pieces of single-use plastic from flights by the end of 2021.

Dubbed the Bowerbird Project – along with Jetstar – it pledged to reduce waste by 75 per cent.

In 2018, Virgin Airlines removed plastic stirrers and straws from its in-flight services and lounges, replacing them with bamboo and paper straws.

This was a milestone move for Australian airline sustainability, and only a year later saw Qantas operate its first plastic-free flight.

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