Sustainability goals can be difficult to attain on the ground – but achieving them in the air is even harder. Nevertheless, at the World Gourmet Forum on 21 March, Singapore Airlines pledged to do just this, introducing measures to reduce the use of plastic onboard, and to ensure healthier and more eco-conscious inflight meals.
Wellness from farm to plane
In addition to a recent partnership with wellness leader COMO Shambhala, Singapore Airlines will take extra steps to make sure the food produced for their passengers is as sustainably sourced as possible. This will be achieved in part through a partnership with Aerofarms, which grows vegetables in environmentally sustainable vertical farms. The airline will also work with farms in Singapore to reduce the need to import produce.
Plastic usage is already being reduced on board with plastic straws only served to children since September 2018. They will be phased out entirely in May this year. Manager of Inflight Services Joanne Toh says, “[Since September last year] we have saved 123km of plastic straws, the equivalent length of 30 Changi Airport runways.” More impressively, that equals nearly 248.38kg of plastic. The airline is also replacing plastic stirrers with wooden ones.
There are other areas of focus, too. For example, all paper on the planes is now certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the global standard for eco-friendly forest products. The airline is also looking into replacing paper menus with digital alternatives and has already worked with its supplier of children’s toys to change all plastic packaging to paper.
New life for linens
In addition to reducing plastic use, Singapore Airlines also aims to repurpose good-quality products once they are no longer suitable for passenger use. For example, through a one-time project with the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), used airline blankets and bedsheets were turned into cotton bags. Toh explains, “We use [these] to store flight equipment such as foldable stools. This is a great way for us to extend the life of soft furnishings.”
More initiatives to come
In addition to replacing plastics, introducing paper packaging and repurposing inflight amenities, the airline is looking ahead to new ways to reduce waste. Upcoming initiatives include the possibility of printing children’s colouring books and activity kits with eco-friendly soy-based ink, and minimising food wastage by using technology to predict passenger consumption patterns.
Speaking at the World Gourmet Forum, SIA’s Senior Vice President Customer Experience Yeoh Phee Teik reiterated the airline’s stand on continued sustainability initiatives. “We are proud to have embarked on a new era of greater sustainability, with an enhanced focus on environmentally responsible practices on board that will significantly reduce our carbon footprint and improve the sustainable travel experience of our customers.”