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The next frontier in sustainable airline food - edible bugs?
Issue #24 of Sustainability in the Air Newsletter
At the SXSW Festival in Austin in March, I attended a presentation on “feeding the world with edible insects."
The idea, which many people would still consider the left field, is that we should be eating insects as they are a more sustainable food source - agriculture currently generates 25%+ of total greenhouse gases.
The session ended with participants being given cricket tacos, which were surprisingly good, however, they were doused in a lot of sauce, so what you were eating wasn’t so noticeable.
In fact, insect food is a growing movement.
The first airline to embrace this idea is Japan’s Zipair, according to a piece in Simple Flying.
Zipair isn’t serving up crickets as such, which might go too far for most passengers, but it is letting passengers pre-order meals that include insect powder made from crickets.
The meals, which include pasta and a burger, are being positioned as environmentally friendly.
According to the airline: "The ingredients in both meals feature a protein-rich edible insect in powder form, gryllus bimaculatus. By consuming an alternative source rich in protein, these actions can positively impact climate change."
‘Gryllus’ is a type of cricket.
It’s certainly an unusual idea, but then again 5-10 years ago, who would have believed airlines would serve artificial meat burgers, yet a number now collaborate with Impossible Foods.
And overall, it’s good to see airlines think beyond the obvious in looking at how the totality of their operations can be more sustainable.
Airport construction projects with sustainability in mind
Global aviation may account for 3% of global emissions (though it’s higher on a country-by-country basis, e.g in the UK it’s 7%), but one of the biggest contributors to global warming is in fact the construction sector.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “the buildings and construction sector accounted for 36% of final energy use and 39% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2018, 11% of which resulted from manufacturing building materials and products such as steel, cement, and glass.”
As a result, if we’re going to look at sustainable travel holistically, we need to look at aviation infrastructure, especially airports.
Design magazine 'dezeen' has an excellent run-down of ten airport construction projects with sustainability in mind.
This includes the new Red Sea International Airport in Saudi Arabia (above image), which is designed to achieve a LEED platinum rating for sustainable building and is powered by 100% renewable energy.
Meanwhile the new Terminal Two in Guadalajara, Mexico has a perforated wooden ceiling, which will dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of the project by 90 percent, equivalent to planting 27,300 trees every year.
Major airlines to purchase Gevo sustainable aviation fuel (Sustainability)
Austrian Airlines and Venice Biennale promote SAF with Art (Travel Radar)
Are Airlines or Hotels Greenwashing? (Highbrow Magazine)