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Reusable Drinkware Soars to New Heights

deSter, Eastman partner to eliminate single-use plastic waste inflight in the airline industry.

Rick Lingle, Senior Technical Editor

April 16, 2024

3 Min Read
deSter/Rick Lingle, Canva

At a Glance

  • deSter, Eastman are introducing the first reusable inflight drinkware to the airline industry.
  • The cups are made with Eastman's durable and transparent Tritan Renew copolyester.
  • It is the first of more reusable serviceware to reduce airlines' reliance on single-use plastics.

deSter and Eastman want to permanently ground single-use plastics on airlines. The two companies revealed a blue-sky plan that brings innovation to the airline industry by introducing reusable inflight drinkware made with Tritan Renew copolyester.

“The airline industry generates 6.1 million tons of plastic waste per year, representing 2% of the world’s plastic waste and more than 50% of aircraft waste,” says Philippe De Naeyer, director sustainability at deSter. The company is a global provider of serviceware and food packaging concepts for the travel and foodservice industries.

“We see tremendous potential to eliminate this waste with reusable serviceware,” he adds. “For drinking cups, we need a durable and sustainable material to meet the design and operational challenges. Tritan Renew is one of the materials with the greatest potential to meet this demanding challenge.”

Tritan Renew’s unique qualities are essential to the scheme. That starts with the polymer's notable durability, which makes it ideal for repeat use. Also, the polymer's transparency creates a premium experience for passengers.

The final cup design remains in development. However, PlasticsToday also learned that an 8-ounce cup is in testing phase, though subject to change. A rendering of the current design is shown below.


According to a deSter spokesperson, “We're working on defining the best solution to meet the multiple needs of our customers. Eventually, the product needs to have the right haptics and feel while drinking, as well as durability and resistance while being washed for reuse.”

The team is aiming to have a product for airline use during Q4 of this year. Rollout will start in Europe. deSter is unable to disclose specific customers at this point.

A reusable plastic cup is just the start. “The goal is to test and explore other reusable airline serviceware in the future,” says the spokesperson.

Sky-high collection for reuse.

After inflight use, there’s a three-step process to be followed, according to the contact:

  • The used cups will be collected by the flight crew and given to the catering team upon arrival.

  • The catering team will sort and collect all functioning cups and wash them for reuse.

  • After washing, a quality control check will ensure that only cups or other reusables meeting the airline's quality standards will be reused. 

For airline use, plastics must endure a relatively harsh cycle of transportation, onboard use, and cleaning via commercial dishwashing. Having more items that meet stringent quality standards through the airline’s reuse cycle while also retaining a high-end look allows airlines to reduce waste while maintaining a premium experience for passengers.

“We are excited to be on this journey with deSter as they bring innovation to inflight catering with Tritan Renew,” says Dirk DiSantis, commercial director for plastics at Eastman. “This partnership reflects our shared vision for driving the systems change necessary to create new solutions that eliminate single-use plastic waste for the circular economy.”

Tritan Renew is made with 50% certified recycled content via ISCC mass balance allocation through Eastman's molecular recycling technology that breaks down hard-to-recycle plastic waste into its basic building blocks to create new materials, while diverting plastic from landfills, incinerators and the environment.

About the Author(s)

Rick Lingle

Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday

Rick Lingle is Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday. He’s been a packaging media journalist since 1985 specializing in food, beverage and plastic markets. He has a chemistry degree from Clarke College and has worked in food industry R&D for Standard Brands/Nabisco and the R.T. French Co. Reach him at [email protected] or 630-481-1426.

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