April 10 2018  |  Events

Passenger Experience Conference tackles sustainability

By Rachel Debling

At this year's Passenger Experience Conference (PEC), held April 9 at the Hamburg Messe, Christina Fagin of Grüner Hering explained that though reusing materials and reducing waste in the manufacturing process can be costly, it's a direction in which the airline industry can -- and should be --moving.

Though she admitted she has only recently begun to research the needs of the airline industry at large, Fagin provided a few key, actionable points for PEC guests to take away from her keynote speech on circular economy and sustainability as part of PEC's Flexible & Sustainable Thinking stream.

Moderated by Vern Alg, an industry consultant with Reed Exhibitions, "Go Circular! How a Sustainable Approach Extracts the Maximum Value from Innovation" pointed out the myth that recycling is prevalent; in Germany, Fagin noted, 50% of all materials that are placed in recycling bins are actually incinerated for energy. For companies, one way to avoid this is to change business models to encourage longer use of products by selling maintenance packages. The reuse of products or parts (for example, buy-back programs) can also help reduce waste.

Fagin highlighted the work of Plane Industries, a company that creates furniture and accessories out of reclaimed aircraft parts, such as the textiles from seating, as a fashionable and innovative way in which to "upcycle." Leaf Republic's fully biodegradable plates were also presented as a way in which waste can be reduced in the catering realm, and the connectors created by The Agency of Design expand in a vacuum so that unblemished materials can be extracted quickly and easily.

Still, Fagin conceded that monetizing recycling and reuse programs is not realistic at this moment in time, but stressed that she and her company are trying to get companies to "look to the future." Ending on an industry example, she noted that though composites are most often used in aircraft interiors, making it difficult to extract raw materials for reuse, manufacturing interiors products with renewable energy could be a solution.

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