It's crunch time for disposable plastic items on Air New Zealand flights.

Speaking at the Sustainability Breakfast in Wellington, the national carrier said it will be removing a further 14 of single-use plastic products from its flights over the next year.

The list includes plastic cups, lids, and Koru cheese plates, along with plastic bags across the network.

The airline currently burns through more than 25 million of these items per year.

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Replacing these items will be low impact alternatives include reusable options, which we can expect to see on flights within the next 12 months.

Air New Zealand has already removed 3000 straws, over 7 million coffee stirrers, and half a million eye mask bags and toothbrushes from its lounges and aircraft.

Shake up: These original Air New Zealand plastic stirrers are up for auction online. Photo / www.trademe.co.nz
Shake up: These original Air New Zealand plastic stirrers are up for auction online. Photo / www.trademe.co.nz

While there's still a way to go, Air New Zealand's Head of Sustainability Lisa Daniell is delighted with the progress they've made in removing disposable plastic from their services.

"If we were to line up all of the plastic stirrers we are replacing across our network, they would span the length of Cape Reinga to Taupo," she said. That's 700km of flimsy plastic spoons!"

Ms Daniell said the catalyst for change had come from both employees and customers.

"We know these are small steps but given our scale, they do result in a significant amount of single-use plastic being avoided," she said.

While Air New Zealand's bid to remove these items is welcome news, passengers can't help but wonder what will they be replaced with?

Will this move usher in a new era of teal-coloured Air New Zealand dinnerware?

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The original Crown Lynn crockery has become a collectors' item, with service sets fetching upward of $30 a plate online.

Unfortunately a spokesperson for the airline said a return to flying dinnerware was unlikely.

Cup half full: The airline has pledged to reduce its use 24 million disposable plastic items. Photo / Air New Zealand, Facebook.com
Cup half full: The airline has pledged to reduce its use 24 million disposable plastic items. Photo / Air New Zealand, Facebook.com

Due to weight concerns, whatever replaces the disposable service items will more likely be a more robust, reusable version of the current options.

But could this be made from more imaginative materials, such as cardboard or bamboo pulp eco-cups perhaps?

One thing is for certain: plastic is on the way out and the collectors should stock up on stirrers now.

A set of plastic Koru cocktail stirrers have already made their way into the Air New Zealand list of memorabilia on TradeMe at a starting price of $10. However, the cost of guilt-free airline meals is priceless.