Circular Economy Strategies for Inflight Comfort Items

  • Project no.352985
  • Duration 10/2022 - 03/2023

The European Green Deal envisages the gradual implementation of a Circular Economy (CE). Therefore, the number of circular materials in circulation in the European Union (EU) is to be doubled by 2030 compared to 2020. After that, the goal is to achieve a fully closed-loop CE in the EU by 2050. In addition, there are new legal requirements, such as the "Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz", as well as growing customer expectations for sustainability in companies. Companies in the aviation sector are not exempt from this. As a result, companies operating in Europe and especially in Germany are faced with the challenge of implementing circular concepts and processes along their entire value chain.

Against this background, the Wuppertal Institute was commissioned by the Lufthansa Group to investigate CE potentials for improving sustainability performance in the area of so-called "inflight comfort items" within the framework of an explorative study. These include all the products that, in addition to food and beverages, are carried on board of aircrafts to offer passengers additional comfort. In the project, the researchers analyse possible CE strategies for comfort items of the Lufthansa Group using the example of Swiss International Air Lines Ltd.
Since hundreds of comfort items are carried on board every flight and often have to be disposed of as waste at the end of their life cycle, reducing this waste and finding more circular solutions for comfort items can significantly increase sustainability performance.

The methodological approach of the project is to select four exemplary items in a structured way and then analyse them specifically for their CE potential. Based on this, the scientists derive individual strategy options for the selected items as well as general CE guiding principles for the various comfort item categories of the Lufthansa Group.
On this basis, the researchers develop concrete approaches and options for action for the four exemplary comfort items and – in the sense of a transfer – also for other product categories. The focus here is on the question of how different comfort items can be efficiently managed in cycles, how their service life can be extended or how they can be substituted if necessary. The methodological procedure and the results of the explorative study are to be transferred to the Lufthansa Group's range of comfort articles after the project in order to increase the overall sustainability performance.

Project team




  • Lufthansa Group

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