CA-Based Airline Tops List of Best Recyclers, But All Have Far to Go
SAN FRANCISCO - Most airlines aren't making the grace when it comes to recycling.
A new report card shows the industry has a lot of room for improvement in its recycling programs.
San Francisco International airport is just one of the dozens, if not hundreds, of airports across the nation that needs a lot of work.
Investigating a little bit deeper, the Consumer Watchdog Group Green America finds it all begins with the process of cleaning the inside of airplanes.
It may not be the most glamorous part of the airline business, but cleaning up what passengers leave behind, and whether its recycled, may ultimately play a role in global warming.
Green America estimates that airlines could recycle 500-million pounds of trash per year, and energy saved by recycling could actually help off-set the 600-million tons of carbon dioxide airlines generate annually.
In reality, only about 20% is getting recycled, according to the report card compiled by Green America.
In a breakdown, the study shows airlines toss out 9,000 tons of plastic per year. That's enough aluminum to build 58 of the jumbo 747 planes, and it's enough paper to cover one football field that's 755 feet deep.
Delta Airlines and Bay Area-based Virgin America rank as the best recyclers, but even they just get a B-.
The majority of airlines get a D.
United and US Airways both get an F.
A Virgin America spokeswoman says it's easier to recycle in San Francisco than in some other US Cities.
Abby Lunardini from Virgin America says, "I think all of the airlines have a lot of work to do, I think there's some complexity with dealing with airports and regulations and how you move the waste."
One traveler believes if we all do our small part, it can lead to a big difference.
Kristin Jeffries, visiting from Wisconsin, says, "If we take it individually, that's the only thing you can do, is individual recycling. I would appreciate it if companies would do it as well as indivIduals."
An average passenger generates between 1 and 1.5 pounds of garbage when they fly. That's not a lot on an individual basis, but when you multiply that by all the people who fly, the numbers, and waste, really add up.
Consider this: take your trash and recyclables with you off the plane, and throw it all away in the appropriate containers in the terminal. Or, if you're really determined to ensure the garbage and recycling is being properly disposed of, take it all home with you and place in your separate bins for weekly collection.
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