Etihad Economy Evolution


In December 2022, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, rolled out its new Economy class soft furnishings and tableware that have been designed with sustainability and improved guest experience as primary objectives. This programme is a result of extensive research and development through Etihad’s eco-flights over the past few years from testing various sustainability products and concepts as well as feedback from frequent flyer guests and Cabin Crew.

Closed-loop Recycling

The new dining experience features reusable tableware made from recycled high-quality plastic and eliminates the use of single-use plastic. The tray, casserole dish, side bowls and their lids as well as platter are part of a closed-loop recycling system. At the end of their lifecycle, they are collected, washed, ground and reused to make new replacement products ensuring zero waste.


The tableware range also features quality stainless-steel cutlery with signature Etihad branded etching. This further upgrades the Economy dining experience while reducing single-use plastic. Alongside these beautifully designed cutleries are premium quality napkins designed to fully contain the cutlery set. This smart pocket design allows the cutlery set to be packed in the napkin pocket without the need of a separate packaging further eliminating unnecessary packaging and single-use plastics.

On flights where disposables are required due to operational reasons, the airline has introduced new renewable and lightweight ‘Pressed paper board cutlery’ that are compostable, fitting existing paper waste streams and from FSC certified sources. These offer ease of delivery while protecting the dining experience as it offers improved mouthfeel as compared to traditional materials such as wood or bamboo. These are packed in a biodegradable FSC certified cutlery wrap that is not single use plastic.


Plastic tumblers are being fully replaced by biodegradable paper cups that comes with lining derived from renewable/organic sources.


Alongside the cups are the introduction of bespoke bamboo stirrers replacing all single use plastic stirrers. The shape of the stirrers is inspired by the wing of an aircraft with the iconic Etihad branding. Part of these smart design includes a marker at the end of the stirrer helping Cabin Crew to gauge the amount of liquid poured in the cup. This not only speeds up delivery of service but also saves the airline from loading multiple spirit measures removing additional weight from the aircraft.

Soft Furnishing

The Economy Class experience upgrade includes new soft furnishings featuring a 35% larger pillow with a reusable soft fabric cover. This is complemented by a soft fleece blanket made from recycled plastic bottles for additional comfort on all flights.

In 2019, Etihad committed to remove 80% of single-use plastic from its operation from the end of 2022 and the introduction of this new inflight equipment ensured that the airline met this sustainability goal.

Where possible, the airline is also moving towards locally produced items which will further improve the overall environmental impact of the operation. Working with their supplier, the closed-loop recycling programme is planned to be conducted locally within the UAE in the future that will lead to around 80% of the main tableware set being locally produced.

With the roll out of this programme, Etihad continues to lead in sustainability and showcases that its commitment to sustainability doesn’t come at a compromise to the quality and thoughtfulness behind Etihad’s guest experience.

Company Details

Etihad Airways