Air New Zealand begins testing use of eco-friendly serveware

Aviation Updates Philippines – Air New Zealand has begun testing the use of eco-friendly serveware in its international economy cabin to reduce its use of single-use plastics and lower carbon emissions.

Photo by Air New Zealand

The Auckland-based carrier recently tested two different casserole dish materials — bagasse and reusable plastic — along with birchwood cutlery on four flights to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. 

According to the airline, switching to more sustainable serveware has the potential to eliminate around 28 million single-use plastic dishes, knives, spoons, and forks from inflight every year.

After more than a decade of using single-use serveware, Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said that now is the time to introduce more sustainable alternatives.

"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 from our operation," said Geraghty.

She continued: "We're on a journey to reduce the impact of our serviceware on the environment by moving away from single-use plastics and trialing more sustainable serviceware across some of our international flights.

"Our Future Aircraft Cabin Experience (FACE) program has been in motion for a number of years now, working on the future experience of our customers. COVID-19 has, however, given us a chance to accelerate some of that work. We want to build back better than before and moving towards more sustainable alternatives inflight is a key focus area of our strategy.

"We looked at everything from carbon emissions to raw materials which fed into what serviceware we used in the trial, and in future, expect to roll out across our network."

Geraghty added that the airline is also planning to trial bamboo cutlery "to see what works best for our customers."

Aside from testing the use of eco-friendly serveware, Air New Zealand has also started reusing sealed and unused inflight products like bottled water, cookies, and tea, saving more than 36 million products from going to landfills.

Since 2018, the airline has also managed to transition around 55 million single-use plastic items to lower-impact alternatives — or eliminated them completely — across its local and international network and ground locations.

In 2020, Air New Zealand was named Green Airline of the Year by the Sydney-based comparison website Finder.