SAS is creating a sustainable onboard offering

With a stronger focus on reducing climate impact than ever before, the packaging of the SAS New Nordic dining experience is being transformed.

Throughout 2019, many changes have been made to  SAS’ inflight products and services to make it even more sustainable. These include the removing of tax-free sales and increasing the availability of pre-order meals to help reduce waste and weight. Now the airline is focusing on replacing some of the materials that are used onboard. One of the first to undergo this change is the New Nordic “Cube.”

With an emphasis on reducing food waste and using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, the cube, which has won awards for its innovative design, has had a sustainability focus since it was first launched in 2017. And now the Cube will be relaunched in November with a brand new external design and even better packaging and contents.

“We have a sustainable mindset for everything we do,” says Gustaf Öholm, Head of Onboard Product Services & Ancillary at SAS. “And we’re constantly looking at our weight and the materials we use to see how we can become more sustainable.

“To improve our product and service offering, we’ve been working on a process we call stop, reduce and replace,” Öholm continues. “This involves evaluating all the materials and products that we load onboard and asking: Should we have this onboard? Does the customer need it or is it there because we’ve always had it? If we decide that we still need it, we work to reduce its use by, for example, involving the cabin crew to see how we can hand out fewer plastic glasses – asking passengers if they can use the same glass for more than one drink. And most importantly, we look for new ways to replace existing materials with more sustainable ones.”

With that in mind, while the outside of the Cube has always been made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved paper, SAS asked its suppliers to evaluate how the use of plastic inside could be minimized.

Some form of plastic is usually necessary for food storage due to food safety requirements. But SAS’ suppliers came up with a solution that replaces the Cube’s inside plastic container and lid with FSC-certified paper products and a plant based plastic coating. The new Cube also has fewer items in it, a decision was made after looking at customer behavior.

“We’re very proud of the food in the Cube and we’ve noted that the extra salt and pepper isn’t used that much, so we took them away along with the wet wipe and the toothpick,” says Öholm. “The cutlery -material has also been changed from oil-based plastic to a plant-based one and we have removed the plastic bag around the cutlery kit. It’s now wrapped in a paper napkin.”

The newly designed Cube is an important step in creating a more sustainable offering onboard. “We decided to stop providing the hot towel service on flights within Europe on SAS Plus, and we changed the swivel sticks that you put in your drink from plastic to FSC-certified wood,” says Öholm. “And of course, we’re continuously looking at all products to minimize the use of plastic.”

‘Does the customer need it or is it there because we’ve always had it?’

SAS’ pre-order meal service is another important initiative that is helping minimize food waste and reduce the weight onboard, as well as creating a personalized onboard experience for travelers, while additional ongoing SAS initiatives include investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft, giving travelers the opportunity to buy biofuel and carbon offsetting all EuroBonus members’ tickets.

“We’re working every day to change all the disposable materials that we have onboard SAS flights and to find innovative ways to make our service offering as sustainable as possible,” says Lars Andersen Resare, Head of Environment and CSR at SAS.

“The Cube is the frontrunner of a large part of the onboard service and we’ve now developed a new smart, more sustainable and non-fossil-based paper container for it. We’re constantly looking for products and new methods of working across every part of SAS. Although larger initiatives such as fleet modernization, biofuel usage and electric aircraft development may have a higher profile, every step toward an improved offering for our travelers makes a difference.”

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