Upcycling

Discarded airline materials are upcycled into sports gear, soccer balls and handbags

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We have reported before on ‘upcycle’ initiatives from airlines, with carriers such as KLM (uniforms), Finnair (seat covers, seat belts, curtains), Delta (seat covers) and Air France (life jackets) giving discarded airline interior materials a second life as stylish bags. The benefits are three-fold: waste is recycled, airlines add an eco-friendly touch to their brands, and many consumers like the story behind the upcycled product. Here a few more interesting recent examples.

Boeing: From carbon fiber to sports gear
Boeing and American manufacturer of sports equipment Russell Brands are working together to incorporate leftover carbon fiber from B787 Dreamliner production in Russell Athletic protective athletic gear. Composite materials make up 50 percent of the primary structure of the 787, including the fuselage and wing.

Boeing and Russell Athletic see significant benefits in using aerospace-grade carbon fiber because the carbon filaments provide a high strength-to-weight ratio and greater durability. Aerospace-grade carbon fiber is thinner, stronger and approximately 10 percent lighter compared to competitors.

An initial collaboration uses the material in Russell Athletic’s new CarbonTek football shoulder pad system. The aerospace-grade carbon fiber is strong, thin, light and durable, Boeing said. In football pads it also offers increased range of motion and secure fit for the athlete’s body.

Boeing says several “elite” college players from Division I universities will be wearing the CarbonTek during the upcoming football season, as well as Russell Athletic’s three pro football ambassadors: Pierre Garcon, Mark Ingram and Colt McCoy.

Southwest: From seat to soccer ball
After a large-scale interior redesign of many of its B737 aircraft, Southwest found itself with an excess of 80,000 leather seat covers — enough to fill the EmpireStateBuilding. “We had this idea of ‘could we do something with this leather beyond recycling it or shredding it? Could we repurpose it?'” says Marilee McInnis, the airline’s senior manager of culture and communications.

Southwest dubbed the initiative “Luv Seat: Repurpose with Purpose” and reached out to potential partners to take the used leather, but found that there were few takers. Read full article »

Air France upcycles old life jackets and advertising posters into stylish must-haves

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By Debbie Pappyn, Classe Touriste

If you like the life jacket the flight attending is showing during her emergency presentation, you might want to check out Air France’s new cooperation with the French upcycle brand bilum. Both brands are presenting a collection of travel cases made from recycled life jackets and old advertising posters that were on display at Paris Orly airport in spring 2012.

As all life jackets have a limited lifespan, Air France has asked bilum to give them a new life, rather than destroying them. This partnership fits into Air France’s philosophy to reduce its environmental impact and to give something back to certain communities.

The first collection of 400 cases made from life jackets were launched in December 2012 and are available for sale online at Air France and Bilum at a price of 19 euros for the flat case and 24 euros including tax for the padded case.

For the moment you can still buy bags and ticket wallets made from the giant Air France canvas posters dating from summer 2012. The posters show a girl lying in the green grass on a bed of flowers in the shape of an airplane. Prices range from 69 euro to 285 euro for a bag.

All cases from bilum are manufactured in France by people with disabilities as part of a work insertion scheme by the E.S.A.T., a French organisation that aims to integrate people with disabilities into the mainstream labour market. They are hand-cut from a piece of the jacket or poster and the fabric is not changed in any way, so that each case is unique. No two items are the same.

Finnair goes on an upcycling spree

We have reported earlier on how KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic have teamed up with outside designers in ‘upcycling’ initiatives that gave old uniforms and aircraft seats a second life as bags and other accessories. Not only is upcycling a good way to re-use discarded materials, it also make a great story behind the new products that were created out of old aircraft interior materials. Now Finnair is the latest airline to announce a series of upcycling initiatives.

Uniforms, seat covers, seat belts, curtains and life vests
In 2009, Finnair assigned Globe Hope the task of giving a new use to the fabric of Finnair’s discarded uniforms. Helsinki-based Globe Hope specializes in the design and production of clothing and accessories from recycled materials. The dark-blue fabric used in Finnair’s jackets and ties was converted into toilet bags and Globe Hope also turned Finnair seat belts into toilet bags for men. In early 2010, Finnair also commisioned sustainable design firm EDEL City with the design of a stylish bag set from used aircraft curtains and seatbelts. In June 2010, EDEL City’s launched the first item of its so-called ‘F-air-line’ collection, a luxurious shopping bag which retails for EUR59. EDEL City says it is planning more upcycled ‘F-air-line’ items.

Furthermore, as the vivid yellow material of old life vests also lend themselves perfectly to be re-used as high-visibility safety clothing for school children, Finnair donated 200 yellow safety vests to the first graders of two local schools.

Video monitors
In another upcycling initiative, parts of Finnair’s recently retired MD-11 aircraft have been refashioned by Finnish design agency Seos Design into energy efficient LED lamps. Says Pekka Kumpula, creative director at Seos Design, “I went to have a look around Finnair’s Technical Services facilities and became especially interested in the potential of the support elements for video monitors, from which the ‘First Class / Eco Lighting’ LED lamps evolved.”
Read full article »

KLM donates old uniforms for upcycling into new products

Following earlier initiatives by Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic (seat covers and curtains), KLM is upcycling its old uniforms into bags, belts and slippers. In April 2010, more than 11,000 female cabin crew, ground staff and pilots at KLM changed into new uniforms designed by Dutch couturier Mart Visser. All blue items of the previous female uniform were collected for recycling, which resulted in 90,000 kilos of fabric.

Because of security reasons, many airlines destroy discarded uniforms as wearing an old airline outfit could make it easier to slip through airport security illegally. Airline uniforms are also in popular demand for carnival or even worse in erotic clubs. For this last reason, Japan Airlines says it has recently marked its uniforms as its restructuring will make thousands of staff redundant. Second-had JAL uniforms can generate as much as EUR2,500 and are a popular ‘roleplay’ costume.

KLM says it has been looking for ways to discard its uniforms in a thorough but sustainable way. The airline has teamed up with Texperium, which was recently set up with the help of the Dutch government, and promotes the reprocessing of discarded textiles and the development of high added value products from recycled fibres. KLM is the first company to use a new machine which reduces textile to small flocks, which then become the basic material for new products. According to the airline the recycling of the 90,000 kilos of uniforms saves 500 million litres of water, 1 million cubic meter of natural gas, and 4,600 tons of CO2. See this video (in Dutch) for an impression of KLM’s upcycling process. 
Read full article »

Delta upcycles aircraft seat covers into fashionable bags

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials, which would otherwise go to landfill, into new products or materials of better quality. Companies like Tierra Ideas in the U.S and WornAgain (slogan: “Every product has got a story to tell”) in the UK work with large corporations to create fashionable upcycled products. The benefits are three-fold: waste is recycled, companies add an eco-friendly touch to their brands, and many consumers like the story behind the upcycled product. 

Tierra Ideas  just announced its new 2010 ‘Aero’ bags collection in partnership with Delta Air Lines. Delta has donated worn and retired seat covers, blankets and curtains from its aircraft as well as from all Northwest aircraft that were refurbished when Delta acquired Northwest in 2008. After separating the fabrics by pattern (frequent fliers will recognize the different Northwest and Delta patterns) Tierra Ideas has turned them into messenger bags (price: USD219), laptop sleeves (USD55), and duffle bags (USD62). 
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