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Yay or nay? SIA trials paper serviceware in bid to go green, but public opinion divided

Yay or nay? SIA trials paper serviceware in bid to go green, but public opinion divided
PHOTO: Fcsebook/Singapore Airlines

If you've sat on a Singapore Airlines (SIA) Premium Economy Class and Economy Class flight before, you're probably familiar with their plastic crockery. 

However, this may soon be a thing of the past as the national carrier begins trialling its new paper serviceware. 

In a Facebook post on Tuesday (Feb 28), SIA said the all-new service will be made with Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper and will have the "distinctive SIA look".

For the uninitiated, Forest Stewardship Council produces sustainable products that support our forests

The serviceware is currently on trial in Premium Economy Class and Economy Class on selected medium- and long-haul flights from March 1 to March 25. 

SIA said the design of the serviceware, while made from paper, "allows it to retain heat and moisture better than the current casserole dish".

"It also means we can now offer soupy and gravy-rich main courses, including long-time favourites such as laksa, mee siam, and congee on these routes," said the airline. 

In line with the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which is a whole-of-nation movement to advance Singapore's national agenda on sustainable development, this may be seen as a step in the right direction to achieve that goal. 

But not everyone agrees.

Some say it may not be the right material or size 

Some members of the public wondered how paper serviceware would be able to hold meals that are more "soupy". 

Others were concerned about the size and shape of the serviceware, which may result in the stacking of food within the box. 

Some also accused the airline of cutting costs and "downgrading" themselves. 

Others feel it actually works 

On the other end of the spectrum, some netizens gave positive feedback based off their experiences with the paper boxes used on SIA's short-haul flights, which are made of the same Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper material. 

One netizen shared that while the box "looked puny", the "quantity of food was just about right". 

He also added that when he ordered the beef stew, which had more liquid content, it worked out fine. 

Another benefit, he shared, was that the box was easier to hold with his hands, which meant fewer chances of spillage as compared to the previous plates, which were "too hot to hold". 

There were also people who felt that this may be a good change because the old plastic containers may not have been as environmentally friendly. 

Box versatile and eco-friendly: SIA 

In a press release in November 2020, SIA said meals on short-haul flights would come served in a "leak-proof box" made from the same Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper. 

The airline explained that the use of such serviceware will help reduce the amount of single-use plastics — including cups and polybags for cutlery — on the meal tray by 80 per cent by weight. 

Apart from that, leftovers on the tray, including the new serviceware, will be brought back to Singapore, sent to an eco-digester at the Singapore Airport Terminal Services (Sats) and converted into pellets that can be used as refuse-derived fuel. 

"The onsite processing of waste reduces approximately 60 per cent of catering waste and further reduces emissions from transportation to the incinerator. In addition, the use of lighter paperware helps to reduce fuel consumption on flights," SIA elaborated in the press release. 

The new sustainable boxes were designed by both Sats and Singapore Airlines

One issue they wanted to tackle was how shallow the old casserole dishes were. 

"Because of its shape and how the foil cover does not provide a secure seal, we can't include dishes that are too watery – this limited the menu," said Airline Catering account manager Bellamy Oon. 

Oon and his team also wanted to find a design that would "help improve the flight crew's efficiency during meal service" and at the same time address Sats' sustainability concerns

AsiaOne has reached out to SIA for more details. 

ALSO READ: Want to reduce your carbon footprint? You can opt to pay more when flying

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