- Portland, OR-based Looptworks, a company that recycles materials left over from goods manufacturers, is collaborating with Alaska Airlines to upcycle about 10,000 pounds of seat leather from Alaska’s sister carrier Horizon Air — diverting from landfills while creating wallets, laptop sleeves, totes, and other products from repurposed leather.
- Looptworks has collaborated with Patagonia, Southwest Airlines and Langlitz Leathers on projects similar to this one, which will turn 4,000 worn leather seat covers into marketable products while also saving resources; manufacturing one pound of leather requires 2,109 gallons of water.
- These few airlines are among others finding new uses for materials they periodically replace as part of their maintenance procedures.
These few airlines are not alone in their upcycling and recycling practices. Several other airlines — including United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta — have increased in-flight recycling efforts while reducing waste generation in the past five years.
These environmental practices follow a 2010 report revealing disposal of aircraft waste cost the industry $20 to $26 million. The recyclable materials had an estimated market value of $18 million to $26 million, a revelation that has since prompted innovative best practices industrywide.
While there are no comprehensive figures to reflect how the airline industry at large is doing, they are getting greener for each mile that they fly, said Green America Co-Executive Director Todd Larson.
"But the issue," he said, "is as they fly more people, their overall environmental impacts are still high and growing."