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Our Heart doesn’t just give back, it gives forward.
  • 236K
    pounds of repurposed seat covers since 2016
  • 5,000
    life vests kept out of landfills in 2016
  • Nearly 900,000 six-pack rings recycled since 2009
  • 35%
    of SWA waste diverted from landfills in 2016
  • 2,600
    tons of recycled co-mingled waste in 2016
LUV Seat: Arise
  • LUV Seat: Arise
  • LUV Seat: Dallas
  • LUV Seat: Mexico
  • LUV Seat: Rethreaded
  • More Repurposing
LUV Seat: Arise

In collaboration with Jennings, Missouri-based nonprofit Arise Veteran Foundation, Southwest Airlines is supporting art instruction and skills-based building programs for youth, veterans, seniors, and other disadvantaged groups. Arise is using leather from Southwest seats in veterans' rehabilitation programs to foster the development of entrepreneurial skills, generate income, and craft activities for therapeutic benefit.

LUV Seat: Dallas

In collaboration with Dallas, Texas-based nonprofit Dallas Designing Dreams (DDD), Southwest Airlines is supporting skills and training programs for youth, people with disabilities, senior citizens, and other disadvantaged populations in the community. DDD has produced a line of items such as golf club covers, jewelry, backpacks, and luggage tags from Southwest leather seat covers and old Southwest Employee uniforms. Dallas Designing Dreams provides employment, volunteer opportunities, and training in a creative space to individuals with “dreams or broken dreams.” Selling one-of-a-kind art and handmade products online and in the local marketplace, Dallas Designing Dreams offers alternatives to the mainstream shopping experience while connecting customers with local producers.

LUV Seat: Mexico

In collaboration with acclaimed México City-based fashion label Carla Fernández, Southwest Airlines created a line of affordable leather fashion accessories that will be sold online through Southwest: The Store. The leather products, made by women in indigenous communities in seven cities across Mexico, integrate textiles and handcrafts that preserve Mexico’s rich cultural heritage and sustain long-standing traditions.

LUV Seat: Rethreaded

In collaboration with Jacksonville, Florida-based nonprofit, Rethreaded, Southwest Airlines created a line of leather fashion jewelry and accessories that will be sold through Southwest: The Store. Rethreaded provides a three-month on-site fashion design training program for women who are coming out of lives of addiction, violence, and the sex trade. The women are provided a fair wage and become artisan seamstresses by creating items entirely from upcycled material, including Southwest leather.

More Repurposing

In addition to repurposing old leather seat covers, Southwest gives new life to other waste materials, including:

  • Aircraft & Aircraft Components: The life-cycle of a retired Southwest aircraft can be extended by selling it to another carrier for continued use as a passenger aircraft. Aircraft not sold are sent to Arizona where 85% of the aircraft is recycled. Engines, avionics, and fuselages are also donated to non-profit organizations to assist with education, historical, or health opportunities.

  • Billboards: Southwest has a limited number of billboards around the country. In years past, the billboard material has been repurposed into a variety of items such as handbags, backpacks, and carry-on bags.

  • Life Vests: Southwest partnered with a Florida Rotary Club to repurpose 5,000 surplus life vests. The Rotary Club works to send this important safety equipment to fishermen in Uganda, keeping nearly 5,500 pounds of waste out of landfills.

  • Lost Items: Many items are left onboard airplanes or in terminals, and while we do our best to reconnect owners with their lost items, some items go unclaimed. We partner with a national distributor to sell the lost items, and proceeds from the sales are donated to the Salvation Army.

  • Traditional Recycling: Southwest recycles traditional waste materials including paper, plastic, aluminium, and cardboard. We also recycle used carpet from our facilities by sending it to a recycling company where it is broken down for reuse in new carpet, yarn, trim, or other carpet byproducts. Altogether, Southwest recycled or repurposed 35 percent of their waste in 2016.
Southwest Citizenship

We are committed to consider the triple bottom line of Performance, People, and Planet when looking at our business. It's a commitment that we hope makes us a leader in global citizenship and supports our Purpose to connect People to what's important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel, and our Vision to become the world's most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.

Ring Leader Recycling Program

In 2009, Southwest tapped into our greatest asset, our People, to establish a network of Green Ambassadors throughout the Company. These Employees channel their passion for the environment to inspire, motivate, and engage their Cohearts in the Company's green efforts. Our Green Ambassadors collect six pack rings and ship them back to the manufacturer Hi-Cone for use in open loop recycling. Over the last eight years, we have worked with Hi-Cone to recycle more than 7,000 pounds or nearly 900,000 six pack rings. That's close to 100 miles of six pack rings, end to end.

Stories about Repurposing
lskinner Employee Rank ‎12-20-2017 09:10 PM
BillTiffany Employee Rank ‎11-30-2017 08:04 AM

Collaborations are underway to upcycle, recycle, and downcycle materials in Mexico, Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arizona, and Tenness...

BillTiffany Employee Rank ‎11-17-2017 07:32 AM

When most of us think about airplane seats, we think about things like vacations, business trips, and traveling for an interview o...

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