Lack of Airline Recycling – As if Flying Isn’t Bad Enough!

Treehugger posted a synopsis of a NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) report that has come up with some incredible numbers on the waste that airlines produce.
“. . Airlines in the U.S. throw away enough aluminum cans every year to build 58 new 747s. . . 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. . . Each passenger today leaves behind 1.3 pounds of trash, . . Seventy five percent of which is recycleable.”
Wow. On our flight back from our family holiday trip (at least it was CO2 offset), we noticed the Delta flight attendants neatly stacking the plastic trays and cups on their cart. We asked excitedly, “Do you recycle those?” Dissapointingly they said, “Sometimes an individual flight attendant will take them off the plane and recycle them, but the company doesn’t do it and we usually don’t have access to reycling in airports.”
Making a mental note recently, it is true that many if not most airports don’t have any recycling containers avaliable. Why is this? And why don’t airlines recycle? I propose a grassroots airline recycling effort. When you fly, write a letter to the airline requesting recycling and when you are on the plane, offer to the flight attendants to take the recycling off of the plane for them.
We recycled a whole bag of plastic! only 8,999.999 tons to go!
Form Letter:

To: ________ Airlines

Re: Recycling

To Whom It May Concern:

I was on a recent flight with your airline and was quite surprised to find that despite the large amount of plastic and aluminum waste that we as passengers generated, there was no recycling of this waste at all. I am writing to encourage your company to begin a recycling program with passenger waste which could save thousands of tons of landfill per year and thousands of dollars in disposal costs for your company.

The National Resource Defense Council recently released a report on airline waste which you can see at http://www.nrdc.org/media/pressReleases/061212.asp which details how much is thrown away per year by the industry. It also discusses the cost savings to airlines when they undertake recycling as part of their waste disposal operations. In Oakland, CA they have begun recycling and costs from one airline have dropped from $7,700/month to $2,500 and another airline is saving $1,300/month.

This proposal is not only an environmentally conscious and ethical choice, but a financial and cost-saving choice for your company. Please consider an aggressive recycling program for your airline to minimize your waste and maximize your profits.

Thank you,

Your Name

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