In-flight meal tray reinvented with eco-friendly and edible packaging
Design studio PriestmanGoode recently revealed an innovative and sustainable in-flight meal tray concept that includes edible packaging. The eco-friendly design is part of the studio's "Get Onboard" project, which addresses the impact of plastic waste, with a special focus on the aviation industry.
“Each year, an estimated 5.7 million tonnes of cabin waste is generated on passenger flights, ranging from single-use plastic to amenity kits, earphones and food waste,” says PriestmanGoode. “But nature is demanding that we change our behavior.”
By re-thinking the meal tray, PriestmanGoode wanted to come up with a new concept that would reduce weight, use of single-use plastics and other waste involved with the on-board meal service. In doing so, the studio explored a range of food-safe materials, from cups made from coffee grounds, to algae, bamboo and rice husk. The final design saw the team adopt edible, biodegradable and commercially compostable materials, such as side salads served with a banana leaf or algae lid.
The final in-flight tray concept includes a reusable tray made from coffee ground and husks mixed with lignin binder; reusable base dishes made from wheat bran; side dish lid made from algae or banana leaf; edible dessert lid made from wafer; reusable spork made from coconut wood; small capsules used for sauces or milk made from soluble seaweed; reusable cup with an exterior made from rice husk, PLA binder and algae lining; and a hot main meal lid made from bamboo.
“While there is currently no perfect solution, this design proposal aims to encourage suppliers and airlines to rethink the meal service in a more eco-friendly manner, particularly ahead of legislation to ban single-use plastic, which in some countries is proposed for as early as 2021,” says Jo Rowan, Associate Strategy Director at PriestmanGoode.
The design team also came up with a new travel water bottle solution, made from biodegradable and commercially compostable bio-plastic and cork. The water bottle can be reused for a short-term period, ideally for the duration of a holiday, and is designed to provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottled water sold in airports. The shape of the bottle is also more efficient for air travel, fitting perfectly in the pocket of an aircraft seat back.
“The idea would be to also revisit the provision of refill stations in infrastructure, so that you would be able to empty your water bottle before security at airports, and refill it directly after, as well as pre-boarding,” says PriestmanGoode. “A water cooler cart would feature on-board the aircraft, allowing passengers to refill during the flight. A water cooler system could also be installed in the galley areas of the airplane, acting as an additional incentive for passengers to get up during long haul flights and increase blood flow – an important health aspect of long haul travel.”
The final element of the "Get Onbaord" project looks at working with manufacturers and suppliers to adopt new sustainable materials, which incorporate a circular design or zero waste. Such materials include: ECONYL, a regenerated nylon yarn made from salvaged fishing nets; seaweed yarn; pineapple wood; and Tasman recycled glass.
“Design is about using creative thinking and problem solving to look at how we can make things better, how to minimize resources and waste, and how we can encourage change in consumer behavior,” says Rowan. “We want to raise awareness of how much waste is created when we travel, and explore alternatives that address the supply of products and services, but also what each individual can do to lead us to a more sustainable travel industry.”
The "Get Onboard: Reduce. Reuse. Rethink" project is currently on exhibition at the Design Museum in London until 9 February 2020.