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July 15, 2014

Southwest donates old leather airplane seats to be recycled

140710soccer_recycle_1_1_A couple of years ago, Southwest Airlines announced its was renovating the interiors of its Boeing 737-700s with a new seat, called Evolve, replacing all of its old leather seats.

The Dallas-based carrier asked itself, "What do you do with thousands of old leather seats?"

The answer: send them to Kenya to be turned into shoes and soccer balls.

On Tuesday, Southwest announced a new recycling project where it will donate the used leather to a non-profit in Nairobi, Kenya to use the leather to produce goods, like shoes and soccer balls, to be then given to the local community.

The airline is also partnering with a non-profit in Malawi that will develop a leather works training program to teach school kids while generating proceeds for the school

"With the pilot of LUV Seat in Nairobi, Malawi, and the United States, we’re embarking on a new vision of social impact through training, job creation, and ultimately product donation," said Southwest's vice president of supply chain management, Bill Tiffany.

Southwest estimates it has 43 acres of leather from its old seats. With the redesign to the environmentally-friendly Evolve seat, the airline reduced the weight of each plan by more than 600 pounds.

-Andrea Ahles


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Very nice, but it would have been even better if they had created the jobs here instead of in Africa.

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Even though this is wonderful news, Alaska Airlines has had such a program for over two years. Kudos to Southwest joining the movement.

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