Let airline passengers preselect meals to cut wastage

Sats' kitchen crew dishing Nasi Goreng Merah into the thermoforming line.
Sats' kitchen crew dishing Nasi Goreng Merah into the thermoforming line.PHOTO: ST FILE

I applaud Sats' move to leverage technology to extend the shelf life of cooked food and cut wastage (Sats' new tech cuts waste from airplane meals, March 12).

The International Air Transport Association estimated that the total amount of passenger waste in 2017 was 5.7 million tonnes.

This figure includes toilet waste, paper, cardboard and plastic.

Of food waste, it is unclear what proportion of this was due to food expiry.

Airline food may not be to everyone's taste. And some passengers may not want a full meal or a meal at all, while others would like to make informed choices before they tuck in.

Once on board though, the crew proceeds to heat up and serve the meals, and meals not selected by passengers will have to be discarded along with unfinished food.

While extending the shelf life of ready-to-eat meals will help to reduce some of this waste, I think airlines should make more of an effort to understand the demand side of this equation.

Premium economy and business-class passengers can preselect their meals online when they purchase tickets.

Why not extend this feature to economy-class passengers?

By letting passengers know what meals are offered on the flight beforehand, they can indicate their preference, and the cabin crew will only need to prepare the meals that have been selected.

Reducing airline food wastage should be the responsibility of all stakeholders, and I believe passengers play an important role.

Ee Teck Siew

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2019, with the headline 'Let airline passengers preselect meals to cut wastage'. Print Edition | Subscribe