When Delta launched a series of waste diversion initiatives in 2007, I had no idea how many pounds of material we would collect. I also could not have foreseen the enthusiasm Delta’s employees, customers and business partners would have for such as seemingly simple concept – recycling.
Delta Flight Attendants, Cabin Service teams, and catering crews collected a total of 1,145,215 pounds (573 tons) of aluminum cans, plastics, newspapers and magazines in 2008.
On Earth Day 2008, Northwest implemented an In-Flight Recycling Program on domestic flights into cities including: ANC, DTW, HNL, IND, LAS, LAX, MEM, MSP, SEA and SFO. During the program’s first nine months, pre-merger NWA Flight Attendants collected 118,096 pounds (59 tons) of materials.
The combined In-Flight organization collected and diverted more than 1.2 million pounds (632 tons) of recyclable materials from landfills in 29 US cities.
And the best part is that Delta’s In-Flight Recycling efforts raised $85,000 for Delta’s Force for Global Good and Habitat for Humanity. The funds will be used to build one Habitat home in 2009, making this the second home we have fully funded through in-flight recycling efforts since 2007.
Employee Recycling Center and Office Paper at World Headquarters
The Employee Recycling Center (ERC) located at our World Headquarters in Atlanta is a facility designed to collect and manage recyclables from our offices and employee homes. The ERC acts a supplemental program for those who live in communities with curbside recycling and fills a gap for those who live in apartments.
The ERC collected a total of 280 tons of aluminum cans, plastic bottles and jugs, tin cans, mixed paper (magazines, newspaper, paperboard boxes, phone books, junk mail) and office paper. Of the total, 266 tons of office and mixed paper helped conserve an estimated 878 cubic yards of landfill space.
Net proceeds from the ERC enabled us to make our first donation, of $2,500, to Delta’s Employee & Retiree Care fund which helps employees and their families in times of need.
Aircraft Carpet Recycling
In fall 2007, Delta launched an Aircraft Carpet recycling program in partnership with Mohawk Aviation Carpet. In Atlanta, the program has recycled 84,400 pounds of worn carpet in just over one year. In June 2008, Salt Lake City implemented an aircraft carpet recycling program where 10,480 pounds of the material was sent to a local cement kiln as an alternative fuel. Our program has recycled a total of 18,976 square yards of carpet which is equal to 3.9 acres of land.
Additional highlights from 2008
• Cincinnati implemented an office paper recycling program which recovered over 106,000 pounds of material from Delta’s daily airport operations.
• Lexington, KY became a member of the Blue Grass Airport’s WasteBusters program and now collects plastic bottles, cans and paper from break rooms and offices.
• PDX was a recipient of the Environmental Excellence Award by the Port of Portland for Delta’s dedication to In-Flight Recycling.
• Delta was awarded the EPA WasteWise Gold Achievement Award for Employee Education for our commitment to increasing employee awareness on benefit and need to recycle.
While 2008 recycling results have demonstrated that the sky truly is the limit, there is still work to be done. 2009 will be the year to focus on the programs we have created and work to maximize recyclables from each area via continuous education and collection improvements.