• Air New Zealand trialled removing single-use cups from its flights.
    Air New Zealand trialled removing single-use cups from its flights.

Air New Zealand has trialled the removal of single-use cups on six domestic flights to explore how the airline can deliver hot drinks without the waste.

The airline had recently already removed all single-use cups from its NZ lounges, although Air NZ's chief sustainability officer, Kiri Hannifin, says that doing this inflight is a much greater challenge.

“Removing nearly one million single-use cups each year from Air NZ lounges was a great start, and we've had a really positive response from customers who understand why this was an important move. But, we've got a further nine million single-use hot beverage cups being used each year on our aircrafts, plus millions more of plastic water cups," Hannifin said.

“Removing waste in an aviation environment comes with its challenges. Infrastructure to support waste reduction can vary from airport to airport and country to country, and the need to operate flights on schedule is paramount.”

Air NZ says it is currently in the process of setting new waste targets to support its work towards a more circular economy.

“Designing and procuring with a circular mindset right at the outset avoids waste in the first place and is the optimal starting point. We are excited to see how we can make inroads onboard our aircraft,” said Hannifin.

The trial took place on 26-27 March 2024 on flights across Air NZ's domestic network. The knowledge gained from customer feedback, operational logistics and impact will help to determine the viability of implementing the initiative in the long-term. 

During the trial, customers were still able to access the beverage service, with the airline encouraging customers to bring a reuseable cup, or providing one for them to use during onboard service.

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