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LUV Seat

Southwest Airlines Launches Upcycling Project

LUV SeatSouthwest Airlines has launched an upcycling initiative to transform 43 acres of used leather seat coverings into new products.

The LUV Seat: Repurpose with Purpose sustainability program will also benefit communities by providing employment, skills training and donated products, the airline says.

Southwest developed the recycling initiative following its Evolve program, a large-scale redesign of all 737-700 aircraft, a portion of its 737-300 fleet, and the current standard on all new planes. The Evolve program replaced the leather seat covers and other interior elements with environmentally friendly materials. Through this redesign, Southwest reduced the weight of each aircraft by more than 600 pounds.

Southwest will pilot LUV Seat in Nairobi, Malawi and the US.

In Nairobi, SOS Children’s Villages Kenya, Southwest’s primary nonprofit partner that serves orphaned children and families in need, along with Alive & Kicking, Masaai Treads and Life Beads Kenya, will use the leather to produce goods for distribution to local community groups.

Other partners include, TeamLift, a US-based nonprofit that will develop a leather works training program at a boarding school facility currently under construction in Malawi, and Looptworks, a Portland, Ore., based design company that will reuse the seat leather to produce sustainable goods.

In April, Southwest made a multi-year commitment to in a movement known as Placemaking – a movement that promotes sustainable public spaces as the heart of every community.


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