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Plastic-free, edible flight meal trays designed to reduce airline waste

The meal tray is made from coffee grounds, while the desert lid is made from an edible wafer. CREDIT: PRIESTMANGOODE /PRIESTMANGOODE

Partially edible, plastic-free in-flight meal trays have been designed to reduce airline waste and encourage businesses and travellers to address the issue.

The 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 - made from coconut wood.

Instead of plastic containers for milk or sauces, edible pods made from soluble seaweed are included.

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

The trays are part of a new exhibition at the London Design Museum, titled Get Onboard: Reduce. Reuse. Rethink, running until February next year.

The side dish lid is made from algae or banana leaf. CREDIT: PRIESTMANGOODE /PRIESTMANGOODE

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

The exhibition looks at how design can be reimagined, using innovative materials to tackle waste in the travel industry and encouraging travellers to rethink their habits.

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 cork and compostable bioplastic bottle fits into the front seat pocket. CREDIT: PREISTMANGOODE/PREISTMANGOODE

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.

Jo Rowan, associate strategy director at PriestmanGoode, told The Daily Telegraph: “There have been a lot of discussions in the public space that are about other industries, in the highstreet, 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 Ms Rowan said: “Obviously that’s the dream, that would be amazing for this to create traction and be turned into reality.”

by Lizzie Roberts


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