Southwest Airlines Upcycles 80,000 Leather Seats Into Bags, Shoes and Balls

From leather seats to tote bags and fish skin into luxury shoes, businesses are creating new value from waste streams
Jul 16, 2014 5:00 PM ET

Original article on The Guardian.

What would you do if you found yourself with 80,000 leather aeroplane seat covers that you needed to dispose of? That's the situation in which Southwest Airlines, America's largest budget carrier, found itself recently, when it decided to replace all its leather seat coverings with others made from a durable lightweight material.

The change was aimed at reducing weight – 600 lbs per plane – and thus fuel. Reduced fuel consumption, of course, benefits the environment, but putting 80,000 leather coverings into the incinerator certainly doesn't. It's not just the fact that the leather coverings would be adding to the waste stream: preparing new leather for products from shoes to handbags consumes vast amounts of natural resources.

So Southwest joined the international upcycling trend. Partnering with upcycler Looptworks in Portland, Oregon, the airline will turn a portion of its leather seats into tote bags, duffle bags and backpacks that the airline will buy back to to use as gifts at events.

"The water conserved by making goods using old leather rather than virgin leather is enormous," says Looptworks co-founder Scott Hamlin. "For each bag, 4,000 gallons of water is saved. In addition, there's a CO2 reduction of up to 82%."

Continue reading the original article about Southwest Airlines upcycling.

Original Source: The Guardian