Etihad’s new sustainable concept for onboard dining equipment



deSter, leading supplier of innovative food packaging and serviceware concepts for aviation and food service industries, is proud to announce a partnership with Etihad Airways to realize a new Economy class dining concept which is fully circular. New reusable tableware will be launched on board Etihad aircraft in the fourth quarter of the year together with new Economy class soft furnishings.

For both Etihad and deSter sustainability and exceptional passenger experience play a key role when introducing new concepts and products which is why this collaboration is successful.

Etihad New Economy Dining Service

The airline industry is realizing the importance of sustainable solutions, but single use plastic is still widely used. Etihad, however, committed to removing 80% of single-use plastic from its operations by the end of 2022, back in 2019. The new inflight equipment created together with deSter is going to ensure that this ambitious goal is met.

The launch includes a setup of reusable tableware with trays, bowls, lids and hot meal casseroles made from recycled high-quality materials, eliminating the use of single-use plastic completely. After use on board, items are collected, washed and brought back to the aircraft to be re-used. At the end of life, they are collected, washed, ground and made into the same products again. No waste of precious material and resources, no single-use plastic.

Etihad New Economy Dining Service


This new tableware concept is in line with the second circular economy principle introduced by Ellen MacArthur Foundation – “Circulate products and materials”. In a nutshell, products are reused as long as possible and at the end of life recycled in a closed loop, keeping their intrinsic value and ensuring nothing becomes waste*.

It’s easy in theory but in practice there are many steps and challenges that have to be overcome. One of them is food safety, for which deSter is an ideal partner having received EFSA approval in 2021 for closed loop recycling in aviation. This makes the company the first and only partner in the airline market to perform food contact safe closed loop recycling for plastic tableware.

Etihad New Economy Dining Service


On top of this, local production and minimizing the footprint is another important environmental and social cornerstone. deSter is currently expanding its manufacturing footprint by building a manufacturing facility in the UAE to support the local economy and ensure products could be produced and recycled closer to the customer reducing CO2 emissions and shortening delivery time. This new plant completes our existing footprint with plants in Europe (BE), Asia (TH) and North America (US).

“deSter and Etihad have a perfect alignment when it comes to sustainability and a vision for the future of the aviation industry which is why this project has been so successful. We are very proud of the result – fully reusable tableware which reflects Etihad’s unique brand identity and high-quality standards. Together we are not only showing that a closed loop & circular approach is possible but also strengthening our local presence in the UAE and the region.” – commented Nicholas De Nijs, Commercial Director Middle East & Indian subcontinent

Terry Daly, Executive Director Guest Experience, Brand and Marketing, commented: “Etihad is trailblazing when it comes to sustainability in aviation. Following extensive research and development through our eco-flights over the past few years, we’re proud to reveal the first in a series of enhancements to our inflight experience. Our commitment to sustainability doesn’t come at a compromise to the quality and thoughtfulness behind Etihad’s guest experience, and these innovative new products will further improve our offering. We look forward to rolling out this new experience across the fleet towards the latter part of the year.”