Travel Waste

Exhibition takes aim at travel industry’s 5.7 million tonne waste problem

Travel Waste


Each year an estimated 5.7 million tonnes of cabin waste is generated on passenger flights. Some of that waste includes single-use plastic in meals, earphones and food waste.

A new exhibition at the Design Museum, designed and curated by consultancy PriestmanGoode, looks to raise awareness about travel’s waste problem and suggest solutions.

Get Onboard: Reduce. Reuse. Rethink will be divided into four sections.

The first looks at the meal tray, and the waste generated by an individual passenger on a 12-hour flight.

Could we have “waste free” meal trays?

Jo Rowan, the associate strategy director at PriestmanGoode, says this section will look at “cross-industry innovation” in areas such as packaging, and how these materials could be used to create a more sustainable meal tray.

One aspect that the exhibition looks at is edible elements, to create a “waste free tray service” which would “reduce weight and waste”, Rowan says.

A second area examines water waste on flights. Hydration is a “big part of wellbeing” according to Rowan, but because of infrastructure and issues of contamination, plastic used onboard cannot be recycled.

The exhibition explores what could be done in terms of service delivery and product design that would “encourage passengers to use one bottle they could refill”.

There is also a digital section, which investigates other aspects of aviation travel that could be more sustainable, from the sleep accessories and toiletries to onboard literature that airlines hand out.


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