Etihad Airways is launching a new initiative in a bid to deal with the pressing problem of food waste from inflight service. In partnership with The Concept, a UAE-based product development and design company, it is developing a smart tray called Neos Fly+, which will monitor and feedback passenger dining habits to allow better planning of meals and portions.
What a waste
Sustainability remains at the heart of many airlines’ future plans, whether that be around initiatives for sustainable aviation fuel, alternative propulsion or fleet renewal. But a key sustainability issue that is all-too-often forgotten about is the waste within the cabin.
Research by IATA showed that, on average, every airline passenger generates around 1.43 kilos (3.2 lbs) of waste at the end of every flight. 23% of this was untouched food and drink. Overall, inflight catering generates more than a million tonnes of food waste a year, most of which will end up in landfill or incinerators.
Etihad is one airline that is keenly driving down its environmental footprint. Its ex-ecoDemonstrator ‘Greenliner’ is a visible reminder of its commitment to investing in sustainability. Today, the airline has announced a new initiative to tackle the impact of waste onboard the plane with a ‘smart’ meal tray.
The smart tray uses an IoT chip to send data about food waste. Photo: The Concept
IN partnership with UAE startup The Concept, Etihad is working to develop a meal tray that keeps track of what is eaten, and what is wasted. The Neos Fly+ tray will record food consumption habits, helping Etihad analyze customer preferences to find ways to reduce the amount of food wasted onboard.
The tray, which itself is manufactured from recycled cabin waste, works by monitoring food consumption via an IoT chip. This chip feeds back data to a receiver fitted in the cabin trolley. It will provide data on which meal items are consumed, as well as what proportion of that item has been eaten.
Frank Meyer, Chief Digital Officer, Etihad Airways Group, commented on the partnership, saying,
“This research and development partnership reinforces Etihad’s commitment to sustainability and our reputation for innovation. We look forward to working with The Concept on the development of the NEOS Fly+ which could support our efforts to reduce food wastage. We are proud to partner with a homegrown, locally based start-up, to push the sustainability agenda forward.”
Armed with insightful data on passenger eating habits, Etihad hopes to improve its meal planning to reduce cabin waste. Data will be anonymous and there will be no impact on passenger service
$3.9 billion of waste
As well as reducing the environmental impact of wasted food, it is hoped that this initiative could save money too. The Concept estimates that, across the industry, food waste costs airlines some $3.9 billion per year. It’s a world first, and could prove to be a demonstrator that rolls out to more airlines in the future.
Yadhushan Mahendran, Chief Executive Officer at The Concept, commented,
“We look forward to this innovative partnership with Etihad Airways that will enable us to develop NEOS Fly+ locally in the UAE and is yet another testimony to how companies in the UAE are aligned together towards creating a sustainable impact globally.
The Concept team Yadhushan Mahendran (Left). Maria Sobh (Center) and Muhammad Rijal (Right). Photo: The Concept
The collaboration between Etihad Airways and The Concept follows the announcement of Etihad as the official airline partner for tech ecosystem Hub71. Named after the formation of the UAE in 1971, Hub71 allows Etihad to hook up with innovative and technology-led startups who are seeking to solve some of the world’s most important challenges.
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