Airline Industry Lacks Standard Recycling Practices

by | Jun 16, 2010

Recycling and environmental programs in the airline industry vary across the nation and often consist of a number of partners including airports, airlines, municipalities, private waste companies and federal security agencies, reports Green Life magazine, which means each of the nation’s 552 commercial airports has their own recycling practices.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, says that 75 percent of the waste generated every day at airports is recyclable, but only 20 percent is recycled, reports Green Life magazine.

Here are some examples, cited in the article, that show what airlines and airports are doing to increase their recycling rates.

Continental Airlines recycles oil, antifreeze and other aircraft maintenance products, and recently began onboard collection of bottles, aluminum cans and cardboard boxes for recycling.

Oakland International Airport in California started separating paper, cardboard and bottles from airport trash in 2003, and added food scraps in 2004. The airport handles 455 tons of trash per year, diverting 37 percent of its waste from landfills.

When officials at Portland International Airport in Oregon realized that 48,000 to 78,000 recyclable bottles were being discarded at security checkpoints, they installed liquid dumping stations at the checkpoints, allowing travelers to pour out unused liquids and reuse or recycle the bottles.

At Newark Liberty International Airport all tenants must recycle basic materials.

JetBlue expanded its recycling initiatives last April that allows crew members and customers on flights inbound to JFK to presort plastic, glass and cans for recycling while still in-flight. Alaska Airlines recycles on its flights and sister company Horizon Air has one of the more comprehensive recycling programs in the industry.

This month, Green America started a campaign to get air travelers to pay attention to how trash is handled, reports Green Life. The organization’s recycling report card for airlines shows that Delta, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Southwest topped the ranking, while United and US Airways received the worst grades.

Stay Informed

Get E+E Leader Articles delivered via Newsletter right to your inbox!

Share This