Reducing Plastic Waste by Introducing the Paper In-Flight Meal Containers


Starting in December 2022, ANA will replace disposable plastic with paper as the material for in-flight meal containers in the premium class cabin on domestic flights. In addition, soup bowls and other items that used to be disposable will be switched to reusable items to reduce the amount of disposable plastic waste.

A New Style of Premium Class Meals on Domestic Flights

ANA has launched a new concept, "The Premium Kitchen", for premium class meals on domestic flights to provide passengers with even greater pleasure than before.
We have always strived to express not only the taste but also the color and seasonality of our premium class meals. "The Premium Kitchen" will introduce the thoughts and specialties of ANA's chefs through menu cards and ANA SKY WEB so that passengers can experience the "Pleasure of Knowing" in addition to the "Pleasure of Eating".
Furthermore, in order to ensure that all passengers can enjoy their meals with peace of mind, information on allergens in in-flight meals (seven specific items) will be provided clearly.

Japanese and Western meals served in premium class on domestic flights and menu cards

Introduction of paper inflight meal containers

Along with the launch of "The Premium Kitchen", new meal containers will also be available.
The disposable plastic containers used on approximately 70% of routes with premium class service and serving in-flight meals will be replaced with paper containers made from recycled paper. Also, plastic cups, dividers inside containers, and side dish cups will be converted to paper products. Adding to this, soup bowls that used to be made of disposable plastic will be replaced with reusable items that can be used over and over again.

Conventional disposable plastic in-flight meal containers
Paper in-flight meal containers

Interview with the person in charge

We asked Mr. Nakatani (Products & Services Planning, ANA), who is in charge of this project, about the background to the introduction of paper containers and the difficulties encountered.

Mr. Nakatani (left) and ANA Executive Chef Shimizu (right) verifying serving food in paper containers

Why did you introduce paper in-flight meal containers?

Disposable plastic containers have been used for many years for premium class in-flight meal containers. Plastic is a very convenient material because of its durability, which is unmoved by temperature changes from refrigeration to heating and by prolonged storage and transportation.
However, in order to promote environmentally friendly initiatives under the ANA Future Promise slogan, we felt it is essential to reduce the use of disposable plastic containers, which produce a large amount of plastic waste.
Converting to paper means that it will be difficult to maintain the same level of convenience as with plastic products. We began considering this with the desire to maintain the quality of the products we offer to our passengers and to ensure that the chefs' thoughtful dishes are delivered safely to our passengers.

What difficulties did you encounter in completing the project?

The containers must have a certain degree of durability due to temperature changes caused by food serving, storage, and loading operations, as well as transportation.
Therefore, we conducted a number of verifications based on the assumption of actual operations, starting from the delivery of the containers from the factory where they are manufactured to the in-flight catering factory, to the final loading of the containers onto the aircraft.
We faced a variety of challenges: the paper became soft and distorted due to temperature changes, the color changed due to moisture, and it was dented during transportation.
We took every possible measure to address these issues, such as changing the shape of the box, changing the thickness and material of the paper, and sometimes discussing with the chef to devise menus and cooking methods.
After a series of verifications and countermeasures, we were finally able to create a paper in-flight meal container of a quality that satisfied all the challenges.

What is your passion in your work?

Our goal for premium class in-flight service is to provide products, mainly meals and beverages, that satisfy our passengers and make them glad they chose ANA and want to fly with us again. In that sense, plastic products used for in-flight meals may be out of scope.
However, this does not mean that the ANA Group will put off taking environmental initiatives that it should be taking, but rather we will continue to develop products that satisfy our customers while also taking the environment into account.
In addition, while we have reduced the amount of disposable plastic used for in-flight meals, there is still more disposable plastic in the items used for in-flight services. We will continue to make improvements step by step in order to achieve the ANA Group's long-term environmental goal of zero waste of plastics and other resources by 2050.

The ANA Group will continue to strive to provide products and services that satisfy our passengers and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs from various perspectives, including environmental considerations.