SAS is on a sustainable journey
SAS is focused on three strategic areas of sustainability. The first involves fuel efficiency, the second relates to biofuels and emerging technology and the third involves making its product and service offering as sustainable as possible.
“We aim to be using 100% recyclable materials by 2030,” says Lars Andersen Resare, Head of Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility at SAS. “And we’re quickly moving towards that target.”
A large part of this work involves transforming how meals and drinks are served to SAS travelers. “It’s a big undertaking,” says Andersen Resare. “We’re working with a number of suppliers that are aligned with our ambitions. These include looking at the seasonality of menus, the way the food and packaging has been produced and how it has been transported before it comes onboard an aircraft.”
The New Nordic by SAS food concept was one of the first initiatives launched to support these goals. Using local and seasonal ingredients in its menus, the meals come in a cube-shaped package that minimizes the amount of packaging needed to serve them.
“It’s a seasonal rolling menu where we tend to use more and more plant-based elements,” says Alexander Lund, Food & Beverage manager. “Traditionally, we had a lot of meat onboard, but now we’re offering more alternatives. We also use locally sourced products and ingredients.”
SAS is also changing the materials it uses and looking at how to reduce single-use disposables. For knives and forks, the company is looking into using wooden or renewable plastic or plant-based solutions.
Finding alternatives to plastic can be challenging since plastic possesses many good properties for food safety and durability. “We need to be a bit cautious about our ambitions,” Andersen Resare explains. “The most sustainable solutions don’t always have the best properties that we need for food packaging. We need materials that cope well when they’re heated or cooled and that are user friendly, so there’s less spillage. But we’re moving towards better alternatives that reduce the raw materials needed in production and that are easier to handle as waste.”
As well as different materials, a there is also an emphasis on what is needed and when, which can help reduce waste. “There are many smaller items onboard that we’re re-evaluating to reduce waste,” Andersen Resare says. “Salt and pepper, for example, are always served with meals, but few people use them. And sometimes, travelers are given cutlery items like spoons that have nothing to do with the food they’re eating. We need to look at not having one standard solution for everything.”
The pre-order meal service for travelers in SAS Go is a key initiative in this area. “It means we can be more exact about the number of items and servings we load onto an aircraft,” says Andersen Resare. “This reduces the weight of what we’re transporting and saves us having to throw things away, since we can’t legally reuse food items from one flight on another.”
As well as food and beverages, SAS is looking at how to make other products it offers more sustainable. For example, the small bag used for comfort kits has been replaced with a more sustainable solution, and its contents, such as the toothbrush, toothpaste, socks and earplugs, are also now being made from sustainable materials. SAS is also looking at its onboard sales offering to see if more home deliveries are possible.
Meanwhile, a new sustainable product due to be launched soon, will enable travelers to buy biofuel. Travelers will be able to buy an amount of biofuel that SAS will use on a flight in the near future.
“Our goals with sustainability include cutting our own costs, being a good corporate citizen and being more attractive to our customers,” says Andersen Resare. “As a society, we have a limited amount of resources available. We want to use less and be an organization that doesn’t over-consume. A company that reduces our use of fossil fuels. That is our responsibility and our ambition. And we hope that our travelers appreciate this.”
Published: September 15, 2021