London-based design studio Priestmangoode has just opened a ‘Get Onboard: Reduce. Reuse. Rethink’ exhibition at the Design Museum in London. As we just highlighted in our questions surrounding amenity kits, there is an increasing movement to explore ways that we can use design thinking and material innovation to address the vast issue of waste in travel, something that this new exhibition covers. Over the coming years design studios and passenger habits will start to affect the supply of products and services.
There are some exciting innovative ideas at play at the exhibition and its certainly worth investigating. The key area of focus for the exhibition is the meal service. The driving factors here were to reduce weight – a key factor in aviation design – and minimise waste.
In an bid to reduce the vast amounts of single use plastic that come with meal deliveries – which average an estimated 500g per person per long haul flight – PriestmanGoode has explored a vast range of food safe materials that have been developed for the catering industry, from cups made from coffee grounds, to algae, bamboo and rice husk.
PriestmanGoode has selected some of these materials to re-imagine what the meal tray could look like, using edible, biodegradable and commercially compostable materials. The idea is to eliminate plastic waste, and to replace like for like. Elements that are currently rotable (washed and reused), like the tray itself, would continue to be so, and elements that are discarded, like single use plastic, would be replaced with a sustainable alternative.
Materials were also chosen to reflect the contents of the food within eg. Side salads would feature a banana leaf or algae lid. The main meal lid has been designed to stock all waste items and close into a compostable pack, for more efficient disposal.
But the company, working closely with its China office, didn’t stop there. Understanding that airports are already starting to embrace recycling initiatives like Heathrow’s water dispensers to refill plastic bottles, Priestmangoode looked at other initiatives.
PriestmanGoode’s proposal to passengers requirements for water is a bottle made from biodegradable and commercially compostable bioplastic and cork. The bottle has been designed for repeated, but short-term use, for example the length of a holiday, and is designed to address the impulse buy at airports and stations.
The shape of the bottle has been specifically designed to be more efficient for travel, and fits within the literature pocket of an aircraft seat back without infringing on valuable passenger space. The shape is also more efficient for packing, shipping and retail.
The exhibition also covers elements such as passenger service and cabin materials. These include materials like ECONYL, a regenerated nylon yarn made from fishing nets from the oceans and aquaculture. Other materials include seaweed yarn and textile dye, pineapple wood, and tasman recycled glass.
With design studios highlighting these new technological and environmental advancements, could it be that in 5 years time, these initiatives become mainstream. While the airline industry is notoriously slow to adapt to new technologies due to the complicated certification processes and supply chains involved, concepts that utilise sustainable materials should be fast-tracked.
The Big Picture