Air New Zealand is trialling edible coffee cups on its flights and in its lounges in effort to reduce waste

Air New Zealand has confirmed that it is trialling the use of vanilla-flavoured, edible coffee cups on its flights and on the ground as one initiative in its plans to reduce unnecessary waste.

The airline has already switched to plant-based cups, which are compostable, but serving around eight million cups of coffee per year, the innovative solution could have a massive impact if the trial proves it is a viable product.

The leakproof cups, that also double as an edible dessert bowl, have been introduced as part of a partnership with innovative New Zealand company twiice. They are produced from wheat flour, sugar, egg and vanilla essence and are described by the airline as an “edible biscotti coffee cup”, and the manufacturer has also developed chocolate flavour and gluten-free varieties. It is also working on an edible range of crockery that it expects to roll out in 2020.

The travel industry and in particular airlines, may get a bad press regarding their emissions, but most have strong green credentials. According to Air New Zealand’s customer experience manager Niki Chave has confirmed the cups have “been a big hit with the customers” who have used them for both drinking and also as dessert bowls.

Is this genuinely a solution to waste or marketing gimmick? We have all suffered ‘dip failure’ when dunking our preferred biscuit into our hot coffee or tea. Surely, it would be the same when pouring hot drinks into the ‘cups’. Well, manufacturer twiice confirms that they will remain leakproof, but does acknowledge that they nnedto be treated like a biscuit and stored in an airtight container to keep fresh.

‘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 and if widely adopted across the aviation, hospitality and catering industries would significantly reduce waste.

“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,” he says.

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly essential aspect of business strategy and more and more customers are demanding that businesses develop practices that take into account ecological, social and economic considerations.

Air New Zealand is one airline that has set sustainability at the heart of its business strategies and has set some fairly sizeable targets to prove how seriously it takes the issue. It has recently released its latest sustainability report, which outlines the airline’s progress against its sustainability goals over the past year.

The report tackles key themes including climate change and carbon reduction, embracing diversity and inclusion, supporting sustainable tourism, working with suppliers and reducing waste and plastic.