Sustainability at the core: 5 concepts that make a difference

Creating sustainable products is not a nice-to-have anymore, it’s a given. Especially in the aviation industry, where the impact on the environment is so significant. The onboard dining equipment is one of the most important touchpoints with a passenger. It serves as a kind of barometer on how sustainable an airline is. If at the end of the meal you end up with a mountain of single-use plastic packaging, it does not give the passenger a good feeling.

At deSter we put sustainability at the heart of everything we do. Within our ESG strategy we aim to have all our products fit into circular economy (reusable, recyclable or compostable) by 2025 and achieve net zero carbon & net zero waste in operations by 2050.

Our primary focus is on reusable solutions as those produce no waste of precious material and resources. Moreover, being a part of closed loop allows airlines to recuperate all materials and eliminate waste completely. Of course, it’s good to note that it’s not always possible to have reusable items on board. For these occasions deSter is able to provide solutions made from renewable materials which are either recyclable and/or compostable.

This week Philippe De Naeyer, Sustainability Director at deSter, participated in one of the “Taste of Travel” panels at World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) talking more about this and giving some examples of our past projects. Let’s have a quick look at some of them.


deSter co-developed a unique service together with JetBlue that pushes personalization to the next level. Bowls and lids for both cold and warm dishes are fully reusable (made from high-quality materials) combined with a compostable cutlery. This is a great example of how different concepts could be combined by an airline showing passengers that there is no need to compromise on design & usability when creating a truly sustainable dining set.


Etihad is another airline with who we recently introduced a fully reusable tableware set for its economy class. The reusable trays, bowls, hotmeal casserole and even lids are made from recyclable high-quality materials, eliminating the use of single-use plastic completely and limiting the impact on waste. 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. A complete closed loop system. On top of this, the items will be produced locally to reduce CO2 emissions and transport time further.


KLM unveiled a new cabin class “Premium Comfort” which is an intermediate cabin offering more space, luxury, service options, comfort and privacy than Economy Class, at lower prices than World Business Class. Among other features, a lot of attention was given to catering material which was designed in collaboration with deSter. A reusable quality feel version of the main items were introduced (such as cutlery, casserole, bowls and plates made of light-weight materials), combined with recycled PET and bagasse for items such as lids.

Lufthansa & SWISS

We co-developed Lufthansa Onboard Delights and SWISS Saveurs, a modular packaging system, for the new on-board retail service on short- and medium-haul flights, reflecting the Swiss and Lufthansa corporate identities. Boxes are made from 100% agricultural residual material, which is recyclable and compostable. Multifunctional FSC®-certified* sustainable bowls complete the full offering. A premium bamboo cutlery is a finishing touch to the concept, also being fully compostable.

The designs have been very successful, winning German Design Award in the category “Excellent Communications Design”.

All Nippon Airways

Last but definitely not least is a wet molded fiber hot meal casserole that was launched by All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest 5 star airline. deSter designed and manufactures casserole produced from wet molded fiber, sugar cane and wood, reducing carbon footprint and plastic waste. This dish, with a firm click-on lid, can be used in all common on-board oven systems including steam ovens. It is a testament to the ability of the in-flight industry to drive positive innovation and create products that are appealing, fit-for-purpose and satisfy sustainability targets.

We are also constantly looking into the future and together with our customers redefining our portfolio with sustainability in mind. As such, Delta Airlines recently announced its commitment to reduce the amount of single use plastics on board. deSter is heavily involved in making the switch of our supplied products to reusable or compostable.

Are you interested to learn more about deSter sustainable solutions? Get in touch with us via

*deSter HGS FSC® license code FSC-C141738