Southwest Airlines’ Project LuvSeat Marries Sustainability and Social Impact

Jul 22, 2014 11:15 AM ET

Prove Your Purpose

Companies are continually pressed to innovate products and services to address environmental concerns and many organizations, like Nike and Ford, are thinking outside the box to create materials that pave the way for a leaner and more efficient future. However, oftentimes a sustainable innovation can create some very unsustainable byproducts – and it's up to companies to create solutions that benefit both business and society.

For the past few years Southwest Airlines has been hard at work transforming its airplane interiors to enhance customer comfort, improve fleet efficiency and address sustainability issues. The project resulted in a new and improved cabin, complete with recyclable carpets and lightweight seat covers. These innovations also meant a 600-pound reduction in total aircraft weight -- which decreased overall fuel use, and in turn, carbon emissions. Yet, in order to transform the interiors, Southwest had to remove 80,000 leather seat covers from existing planes, resulting in 43 acres of leather waste which traditionally would be destined for landfills. Instead, Project LuvSeat was born.

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