Ask the FAA to Require that Airlines Begin Recycling

Target: Federal Aviation Administration

Goal: Require all airlines to begin a recycling program by mid-2013

In 2009, travelers forced the U.S. airline industry to throw away enough aluminum cans each year to build almost 58 Boeing 747s. They trashed enough paper to fill a hole the size of a 230 feet deep football field. This equates to 4,250 tons  of aluminum and 72,250 tons of paper.

Despite these staggering numbers, travelers probably can’t help but notice that each time the airline attendant walks down the aisle to collect trash, recyclables and non-recyclables all go into the same bag. To reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, the FAA should require all airlines to begin recycling programs by mid-2013.

Even though 75% of trash collected by airlines is recyclable, only about 20% of it actually is. The airlines’ defense of not recycling is that  airports won’t change their infrastructure to support recycling programs. Since airports aren’t equipped for recycling, the airlines are forced to take on the expense of recycling themselves. However, the cost of sending garbage to the landfill has been found to be more expensive than recycling, where a business can receive money back. One study revealed that four airports that had recycling programs in place saved at least $100,000 per year.

Some airlines have been making noble efforts to reduce the amount of waste they throw out. British Airways has been making it a mission to create zero waste since 2010.  Virgin America has stopped publishing an in-flight magazine to reduce waste. Other airlines have joined in committing to less wasteful practices and flight attendants of American Airlines even created an aluminum can recycling program where proceeds are given to charity. It’s time for the FAA to demand all airlines take the same measures.

Sign this petition and tell the airline industry it needs to make an effort to reduce waste by requiring airlines to begin recycling programs by the middle of next year.


Dear Federal Aviation Administration,

Each year, airlines are throwing away thousands of tons of recyclable waste. They have claimed that airports lack the infrastructure to support recycling programs. Therefore, airlines are forced to take on the expense of recycling themselves. However, studies have shown that airports who have recycling programs in place save over $100,000 per year.

With overflowing landfills threatening groundwater and leaking toxins into soil and bodies of water, efforts must be made by all industries to reduce if not eliminate the amount of waste they create. Seeing as air travel has been steadily increasing, this means waste created by air travelers will increase as well.

We encourage you to recognize the efforts made by some airlines to reduce waste by requiring that all airlines begin recycling programs by mid-2013.


[Your Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. All industries must follow the recycling rules without any exemptions. What gives them the right to destroy the ecology?

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72 Signatures

  • Nitzan Steiman
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