Airline coffee is sometimes undrinkable, but until now, the cups it comes in have been unanimously inedible. That may be changing.
Air New Zealand has begun trialling edible coffee cups with customers in the air and on the ground as it explores new and innovative ways to meet sustainability challenges. The airline currently serves more than eight million cups of coffee each year.
Air New Zealand Senior Manager Customer Experience Niki Chave says that while the airline’s current cups are compostable, the ultimate goal would be to remove the completely from landfills.
“We’ve been working in partnership with innovative New Zealand company ‘twiice’ to explore the future of edible coffee cups, which are vanilla flavoured and leakproof. The cups have been a big hit with the customers who have used these and we’ve also been using the cups as dessert bowls,” Chave says.
‘twiice’ co-founder Jamie Cashmore says the edible cups could play a big role in demonstrating to the world that new and innovative ways of packaging are achievable.
“It’s terrific that Air New Zealand has partnered with us to showcase to its customers and the world that a little bit of Kiwi ingenuity and innovation could have a really positive impact on the environment while at the same time delivering a really cool and tasty customer experience,” Cashmore says.
Cashmore says ‘twiice’ is working on extending its edible range of crockery and expects to rollout new products next year.
The ‘twiice’ edible cup trial backs up Air New Zealand’s recent switch to plant-based cups on board all aircraft and in lounges. The plant-based cups are made from paper and corn instead of plastic, which enables the cup to break down in a commercial composter. Switching to plant-based cups is expected to prevent around 15 million cups from going to landfill annually. The airline is also encouraging customers to bring their own reusable cups on board aircraft and into its lounges.
Chave says the airline will continue to trial ‘twiice’s’ edible coffee cups and work with the company and other partners to explore scaling options that could make it a viable long-term product for the airline.
Airlines using edible cups should probably ensure that the rest of the food they serve is at least a step up from edible. They’d hate to have pax saying the best thing they ate on the plane was the coffee cup.
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.