From green planes to innovation trains, we’ve covered a lot of ground this year when it comes to the hot topic of ‘circularity’ in transport.
Take-make-waste is a concept we have been able to introduce through our speaking opportunities at the Red Cabin events, and one we’ve learned a lot from by being part of the Ellen MacArthur foundation community (https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/).
What we are talking about is disrupting a linear economy – an economy where we take from the planet to create products, which are used for a period of time and then discarded as waste – This approach to resources is what needs to change, and to make a real impact it needs to start with design and it needs to start now.
Like the Red Cabin team, we believe its collaboration that drives change and allows the transport industry to innovate. That’s why these events were the perfect forum to bring challenging topics to the table for debate.
First up was Aircraft Cabin Innovation Summit, hosted in Atlanta at our long-time partner Delta Airlines. Here we saw our Head of Sustainability, Annie Gibbons, talk alongside Southwest Airlines’, Thea Junt, on how to achieve circularity for seating materials. What we learned from this experience is that unless the industry designs circularity in, it’s going to be very hard to get there. There are lots of things we can all do to improve and progress towards a more circular economy; such as repurposing or upcycling products, but ultimately those are not long-term sustainable solutions that will stop climate change.
It feels that moving from a linear, to a circular economy, is still very much a challenge to most businesses in the industry, however, what is clear is that everybody is on the same page when it comes to the level of importance placed on the subject and people are genuinely committed to finding possible solutions.
Annie Gibbons, Head of Sustainability at ELeather said, “One solution we are exploring is an ‘end-of-life’ process. We are doing this in collaboration with Southwest Airlines, taking their old ELeather seat covers for a trial where we aim to make new materials again that Southwest can turn back into new seat covers. It’s still in progress but once the trial has ended we hope to share some further learnings with the industry and ultimately bring a solution to market.”
Turning our attention from the sky to the track, we found ourselves in Frankfurt bringing the same topic of discussion to the rail industry at Deutsche Bahn’s IdeasTrain showroom. Some might say rail is already the more sustainable method of transport, however, that doesn’t mean it’s anywhere near operating in a fully circular manner.
Red Cabin Railway Interior Summit was a great opportunity to meet with many key figures in the industry and hear from both operators and designers on how they are approaching more responsible solutions for rail cabins.
Alberto Rossi, Head of Ground Transport at ELeather said, “Sustainable travel is very high up on the agenda at most industry events and here in Frankfurt it was no exception. What worked so well at this summit was having the DB IdeasTrain present and getting the opportunity to talk alongside Julian regarding their sustainability commitments . It also gave the delegates a real life example of how sustainability has been considered from concept to reality and why the specification of responsible materials is so critical.”
There is a long way to go on the road to circularity but it’s encouraging to see so much support and willingness to get the industry on track. Let’s keep the conversation going, create an environment where collaboration is the norm and take action now, there is no more time to waste!