July 07, 2023
Developing Our Thinking About Sustainability
Sustainability, climate change, net zero and Scope 3 are the talk of the aviation industry, most recently at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. We spoke with movers and shakers from across the industry during our week-plus in Hamburg — and have been continuing our conversations since. sums up his discussions in Hamburg and back at home.

Airlines — and the interiors industry — are still figuring all this out.

At this point in time, says Vice President of Marketing and Branding, Barry Silverman, “There doesn't seem to be a very standardized or universal approach — and/or understanding — of what the requirements should be. They're having a lot of conversations, they're trying to accelerate their learning, and they're putting together their plans.”

But nobody can be sustainable on their own: it’s a joint effort that starts at the smallest raw materials supplier making environmentally conscious changes all the way up to passengers taking the time to pre-order a meal to avoid flying extra options, thus avoiding waste and catering weight.

For airlines, Silverman says, “there's also what seems to be a universal belief that they can't do this on their own, that partnerships and collaborations with companies that can contribute their own area of expertise are going to be critically important for them to reach their goals.”



Airlines are being driven by passengers, but is that driving the right behavior? At present, much of the work within the cabin revolves around elements that are most visible to passengers: reducing obvious waste, removing single-use plastics, offering lower carbon catering options, and so on.

This is largely admirable. A jute string or a built-in ribbon tie to secure a rolled blanket rather than plastic shrink-wrapping, say, is lighter and less wasteful. It also allows airlines to ‘show willing’ with what are relatively easy, fast and visible wins.

But weight is the most important factor for emissions, so it’s important that the full lifecycle of a product is taken into account — not least to open the door to really smart innovation.

Take a fork, for example. What’s the overall impact of flying a piece of reusable metal cutlery on an overnight flight versus one made of plastics, wood, or bioplastics? How about compared with the overall meal impact of a sandwich wrapped in heat-sealed wax paper, which doesn’t require a fork at all?

Aviation is one of the world’s most innovative industries, and we’re really looking forward to having more conversations about how we can be a part of the sustainability solution.

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