Air New Zealand has begun trialling edible coffee cups with customers in the air and on the ground as it explores new ways to meet its sustainability challenges.

The airline currently serves more than eight million cups of coffee each year.

“We’ve been working in partnership with innovative New Zealand company twiice to explore the future of edible coffee cups, which are vanilla flavoured and leakproof," said Air New Zealand senior manager of customer experience Niki Chave.

"The cups have been a big hit with the customers who have used these and we’ve also been using the cups as dessert bowls."

twiice co-founder Jamie Cashmore says the edible cups could play a big role in demonstrating to the world that new and innovative ways of packaging are achievable.

“It’s terrific that Air New Zealand has partnered with us to showcase to its customers and the world that a little bit of Kiwi ingenuity and innovation could have a really positive impact on the environment while at the same time delivering a really cool and tasty customer experience,” said Cashmore.

twiice is working on extending its edible range of crockery and expects to roll out new products next year.

The twiice edible cup trial backs up Air New Zealand’s recent switch to plant-based cups on board all aircraft and in lounges. The plant-based cups are made from paper and corn instead of plastic, which enables the cup to break down in a commercial composter.

Switching to plant-based cups is expected to prevent around 15 million cups from going to landfill annually. The airline is also encouraging customers to bring their own reusable cups onboard aircraft and into its lounges.

Chave said the airline will continue to trial twiice’s edible coffee cups and work with the company and other partners to explore scaling options that could make it a viable long-term product for the airline.