January 6, 2020

THE SUSTAINABLE IN-FLIGHT MEAL TRAY: Partially Edible And 100% Eco-Friendly

Words by Matt Leedham

These partially edible, stylish plastic-free in-flight meal trays have been designed to reduce airline waste and encourage airlines and travellers to tackle the plastic issue up in the air.

The gorgeously designed tray which is made from used coffee grounds also comprises a side dish lid made of algae or banana leaf, and a ‘spork’ – which replaces single-use knives, forks and spoons and is instead made from coconut wood.

To complement the 100% eco-friendly design, edible pods made from soluble seaweed are used instead of plastic containers for milk or sauces.

Now that is a thing of beauty.

Unlike the below.

What’s the challenge?

Whether for work or pleasure, travel is an integral part of our lives.

However, our consumption habits mean that we are leaving behind great trails of waste every time we travel.

It is estimated around 5.7 million tonnes of cabin waste, including single-use plastic, earphones and food waste, is generated on passenger flights globally every year.

That’s an unimaginable amount of needless waste that could be turned into compostables rather than end up in landfill, which would also save on additional power and resources.

An obsession with single-use plastics much? Irrespective of pledges and promotional single-use plastic-free and waste-free flights by some carriers, the airline industry is still one of the worst offenders.

What’s the solution?

Uk based design studio PriestmanGoode, who developed the trays, said they are currently in discussions with global airlines and rail companies, and the “dream” would be to turn their concept into reality across the industry.

Imagine that?

For the past 20 years, they have been at the forefront of aviation design, working with the world’s leading airlines and aircraft manufacturers.

Along with the meal tray, PriestmanGoode developed a water flask made from cork and compostable bioplastic.

The reusable bottle fits into seat front pocket of a plane and is meant for repeated, but short-term use, such as the length of a holiday. 

It aims to help eliminate the millions of plastic bottles sold at airports every year.

The trays are currently part of a new exhibition at the London Design Museum, titled ‘Get Onboard: Reduce. Reuse. Rethink’, which runs until the 8th of February 2020.

What will the positive impact be?

If passengers at Heathrow Airport departures lounges refilled bottles from water fountains, instead of buying plastic bottles, the airport said it could reduce its plastic bottle consumption by 35 million a year.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Jo Rowan, associate strategy director at PriestmanGoode, said: “There have been a lot of discussions in the public space that are about other industries, in the high street, petrol stations, but nothing really has been talked about getting people to question the way they travel. It’s not something we’ve heard of a lot.”

When asked about the trays being rolled out across airlines globally, Ms Rowan said: “Obviously that’s the dream, that would be amazing for this to create traction and be turned into reality.”

Though PriestmanGoode’s latest initiative is still a concept, their dream is to have these sustainable edible meal trays and canteen-style water flasks being handed out to us onboard.

Let’s hope we see these stunning trays gracing the skies in the very near future.

Find out more:

How can you travel to change the world?

Congratulations! By reading this post and taking some of these insights on board, you’ve already made a difference.

Now you can easily create your impact by sharing your new-found knowledge with other friends who you think would also be interested.

Ultimately, responsible travel comes down to common sense – stay curious, keep yourself up-to-date with the challenges at hand and make yourself accountable for your actions on your travels.