In-Flight Recycling: Rethinking trash

One of my readers asked if I knew what airlines did with all their empty water bottles. I did some on-line research and found a lot of really useless information. A few things were interesting like this blog by a Delta airlines employee that is gung ho recycling.   

Delta Air Lines Blog | In-Flight Recycling: Rethinking trash Here is an excerpt.
One June 1, 2007, Delta became the first US airline to launch a comprehensive recycling program for our domestic flights into Atlanta, Georgia. Flight Attendants collect Aluminum cans, plastic bottles, “Enjoy” plastic trays, plastic beverage cups as well as newspapers and magazines for recycling. Catering and Cabin Service crews play a critical roll in the program by ensuring the materials are placed into dedicated recycling dumpsters.

I did not find any other glowing reports and sadly according to this article “Trash Landings: How Airlines and Airports Can Clean Up Their Recycling Programs”, The NRDC says:

The airline industry threw out 9,000 tons of plastic in 2004, and enough newspapers and magazines to bury a football field more than 230 feet deep. Nationwide, U.S. airports generated 425,000 tons of waste in 2004 — a figure expected to increase nearly 45 percent by 2015. Each passenger today leaves behind 1.3 pounds of trash, the researchers found. Seventy five percent of this waste is recyclable or compostable. Yet the industry-wide recycling rate is 20 percent or less — one third less than the U.S. average as a whole.

Now, that article was written several years ago, so things may have changed a little. Being green is becoming more popular and profitable. What I found out, is that some airlines do a little recycling and some don’t do any. It seems that Delta has the best recycling program right now. I flew Delta back in November and was impressed by the flight attendant’s efforts to collect recyclables. If you want to read more information about different airlines recycling policies, read the article at this link.

My personal policy is that if I have anything that is recyclable, I will carry it to wherever it will get recycled. Sometimes that means I carry cans or bottles in my purse or backpack until I get home or to a recycle bin.


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