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WTCE: En Route reveals sustainability initiative

En Route International has launched a new strategy centred on increasing its corporate social responsibility (CSR), aimed at reducing its impact on the environment as well as that of its customers, specifically with regards to onboard food packaging.

In line with an overall market drive to increase the sustainability of operations via initiatives including recycling and the introduction of biodegradable materials, the company has introduced alterations to its packaging including replacing plastic linings in hot boxes with a biofilm alternative.

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Centred on the four principles of reduce, remove, replace and reimagine, the Four the Future strategy is providing a framework through which customers can choose the ways they want to make changes to their operations to meet their CSR initiatives. The strategy will form the backbone of all product development going forward, says Richard Wake, creative director at En Route.

“Ultimately, what we wanted to put together was an internal and external strategy to address our own impact as well as helping customers meet theirs,” he says.

“En Route wants to give our customers as many options as possible to do this.”

Four the Future is already being acted on by customers including Emirates, which has replaced the packaging for its business-class cheese products with a fully-compostable alternative to the plastic it used before. This has led to an overall product weight reduction of some 20 tonnes per annum across the airline, lowering fuel burn, as well as a reduction in waste.

A plant-based coating has replaced the plastic inner of the carrier's food boxes, which are now biodegradable and fully recyclable. These are cost neutral to use, and functionally like-for-like.

Wake says it is straightforward to swap over from existing food boxes, and by 2020 En Route hopes to have replaced its cheese, bakery and hot snack box packaging with the biodegradable, compostable, or recycled/recyclable alternatives.

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