From Procurement to Profit

What Do You Do With 675,000 Pounds of Old Seat Covers?

Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) said it is expanding its ‘Repurpose with Purpose’ initiative, which recycles hundreds of thousands of pounds of discarded material into useful products with the help of partner organizations.

By collaborating with groups in the United States and Mexico, Southwest has repurposed leather aircraft seat covers and cushions, blankets, life jackets, aircraft engines, and billboards.

By providing as many materials as possible to these groups, Southwest is reducing the amount of waste it sends to landfills while generating social and economic opportunities for communities.

The Repurpose with Purpose program began in 2013, when the airline began to replace its leather aircraft seat covers at that time.

The  expanded program will repurpose nearly 675,000 pounds of seat covers and other discarded materials in 2017.

In collaboration with Mexican fashion designer Carla Fernández, hundreds of pounds of leather are being upcycled into sellable goods. Fernández works with artisans in seven communities throughout Mexico.

Southwest donated leather from seat covers to Rethreaded, a Jacksonville, FL-based nonprofit that is creating leather fashion jewelry and accessories while giving training and career opportunities to women who have been victims of human trafficking.

Leather from seat covers was also donated to Arise Veteran Foundation, of to Jennings, MO. The nonprofit is using Southwest leather from seat covers in veterans’ rehabilitation programs to foster entrepreneurial skills.

One 95-year-old World War II veteran is using the leather to make dresses for girls in orphanages.

Arise is also shredding seat material for use as padding in the furniture and automotive industries.

A Dallas-based nonprofit, Dallas Designing Dreams, which provides skills and training programs for youth, people with disabilities and others, has produced golf club covers, jewelry, backpacks, tote bags, and luggage tags from the leather seat covers and old Southwest employee uniforms.

“Through our Repurpose with Purpose program, we are able to continue our commitment to living responsibly while creating a catalyst to make transformative change happen in communities throughout the world,” said Bill Tiffany, Southwest Airlines Vice President Supply Chain.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) is the nation’s largest domestic air carrier with more than 4,000 weekday departures to 100 destinations in the United States and ten other countries.

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