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Recycle the friendly skies…

December 14, 2006

The last couple of times I’ve flown anywhere I’ve been thoroughly frustrated by the airlines’ total disregard and lack of recycling. It would seem to be such a no-brainer before landing, as the flight attendants already are collecting trash from passengers.

But no!

Neither Delta nor American participates in the American way of separate bags for cans, plastic bottles, etc., and I’ve been lamenting what to do besides stuff my own recyclables into whatever space is left in my carry-on and then try to remember to dump them into the recycling bin after waiting for baggage claim and the long shuttle ride home.

Apparently, I’m in good company with my concern. The Natural Resources Defense Council released a report on Dec. 12 titled “Trash Landings: How Airlines and Airports Can Clean Up Their Recycling Programs.” NRDC has been studying the problem for a year and makes specific recommendations for airlines and airports, as well as other large municipal operations. Think about it — several airlines are in severe financial straits, and here’s an easy opportunity to pare back costs. Not enough, perhaps, to make them fully solvent again, but every “litter” bit helps.

And the benefit to the environment is significant. According to the report, “The U.S. airline industry discards enough aluminum cans each year to build 58 Boeing 747 airplanes, along with thousands of tons of plastics, magazines and newspapers. All of this waste represents unrealized potential for airlines and airports to save money, reduce global warming pollution and improve efficiency.”

Now my question is to the NRDC: How about some specific steps airline customers can take to pressure the airlines and airports to get with the program — sooner rather than later?

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