Recycled airplane materials get an awesome new life

by Alyssa Daniells

Recycling should always be in fashion and Alaska Airlines couldn’t agree more.

During a major refresh of its fleet, rather than dumping its leather seat covers in a landfill, the airline is sending it to Mariclaro, a sustainable design company. The leather is then transformed into stylish bags.

There are five different styles in the Atlas Collection, including a carry-on, messenger, computer tote and purse. Mariclaro points out that the leather is high quality and long-lasting, making the bags both designer and durable. Each style is named after an airport code, like JFK and of course SEA and ANC, Alaska Airlines’ Seattle and Anchorage hubs.

airplane seat belt buckleMariclaro, a Toronto-based company, pays homage to its major airport with its YYZ bag as part of the collection, replete with an airline seat belt as a buckle detail.

Also in Toronto,  Kiehl’s eye-catching store front in Yorkdale Shopping Centre is made from Bio-Luminum, a recycled aluminum recovered from airplanes. It was chosen to reflect Aaron Morse’s, one of Kiehl’s founders, military pilot background.

Last year, Air France collected its old uniforms to be recycled for car insulation. An estimated 30 tonnes (a whopping 27,216 kilos) was donated by ground staff and crew members. That was enough recycled fibre to insulate 1,350 vehicles.

KLM uniformSimilarly, after KLM changed its uniforms in 2012, the airline sent the old ones to ecologically-conscious Desso Aviation. They manufactured the worn clothing into carpeting that was outfitted in KLM’s Boeing 747-400 business class cabins.

For the past four years, Air France-KLM has topped the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Considering the waste the airline industry is capable of producing, it is promising to see initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint.  From converting airplane parts into office furniture, like what California’s MotoArt does, to hotels made from airplanes, expect a lot more ingenious resurrections of aircraft and recycled airplane materials in 2015.

The Atlas Collection is available directly from the designer or at Alaska Airlines’ store in Seattle.