DESIGN B R I EF
REDUCE, REUSE, RETHINK
Sustainability is a major and growing focus around the globe, and
airline brands will benefit from being seen to be actively working to
reduce their environmental impact. For economy class passengers,
one of the main visual focuses of their inflight experience is the meal
– what an opportunity for an airline to express their greener side…
PriestmanGoode has been examining the inflight meal service to
identify new ways to reduce weight and minimise waste. In its
research to find solutions, the design agency has found a startling
figure relating to single-use plastics – among the dirtiest words
today – that each passenger generates an average 500g of such
plastics during a long-haul flight.
That figure is certainly motivation for innovation, and the
team has explored a wide range of food-safe materials from the
wider catering industry to re-imagine what the world’s most
sustainable meal tray could look like.
The proposed solution doesn’t take the shortcut of removing
service items; instead it replaces like for like, swapping any singleuse
plastic elements with sustainable alternatives. These alternative
materials are all either edible (with materials chosen to complement
the food), biodegradable or commercially compostable.
At the core of the design is a streamlined tray with a skeletal
frame (rotable so it can be washed and reused) composed of coffee
grounds and husks mixed with lignin binder. Common elements of
meal trays are then added, including rotable base dishes made from
wheat bran, side dish lids made from algae or banana leaf, rotable
sporks made from coconut wood, rotable cups with an outer of rice
husk with PLA binder and an algae liner, capsules for sauces and
milk made from soluble seaweed, a hot main meal lid made from
bamboo, and a dessert lid made of wafer (yum). After the meal, all
waste items can be placed in the main meal lid, which can then be
closed into a compostable pack, for responsible disposal.
022 NOVEMBER 2019
is the new luxury”
– see Virgin
on p 54
PriestmanGoode’s proposal is food for thought and
will hopefully encourage suppliers and airlines to
rethink meal service in a more eco-friendly manner.
Aside from the pleasing forms, perhaps the most
attractive part of the concept is that it shows just how
wide a range of materials is available as alternatives
to single-use plastics, with some elements such as
the wafer dessert lid offering a superior option. Of
course it would make sense for airlines already flying
rotable plastic trays to continue using them, but they
could still introduce more sustainable serviceware.
Such ideas are not just good for PR, they are also
sound planning, with legislation in the pipeline such
as the EU Parliament’s plans to ban single-use plastic
cutlery, straws and stirrers by 2021.
You can see the tray concept for yourself at ‘Get
Onboard: Reduce. Reuse. Rethink’, an exhibition at the
Design Museum in London which explores ways that
design and material innovation can address the issue
of waste in travel. The exhibition will run until 9