Southwest Airlines is using a commingled recycling program with sky high results. The popular airline has waste recycled close to seven thousand tons of materials since starting their recycling program in 2008.
While Southwest appears to have a successful recycling program in place now, that wasn’t always the case. Developing a comprehensive plan and implementing it across the country was a daunting challenge as each airport location has different policies, procedures, contracts, and levels of access to recycling services.
However, it was because of all the differences that prompted Southwest to think creatively about the kind of recycling program it could have and the types of waste materials it could successfully recover.
Realizing that employee buy-in was essential to the success of the recycling program, Southwest went with a commingled recycling program so employees wouldn’t need to sort the recyclables and then selected a national recycling partner who had experience with airlines and was eligible to collect from their twenty-six national locations. Any nay-sayers to the airline’s ability to be successful in this endeavor have certainly been dis-proven. In 2011, the company reported that two thousand six hundred tons of waste materials were sent to recycling facilities around the country – that total amount is equal to the weight of sixty-one Boeing 737 airplanes.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Success in transitioning from waste disposal to waste recycling requires creative thinking as well as employee input and buy-in. The best of plans will mean nothing if people don’t act upon them!