Continental Airlines says it has experienced a major increase in the effectiveness of its recycling programs after the company put special emphasis on recycling...

Continental Airlines says it has experienced a major increase in the effectiveness of its recycling programs after the company put special emphasis on recycling projects to support its commitment to the environment.

So far in 2009, Continental Airlines has collected more than 4 million pounds of mixed recyclables from terminal operations at its Houston Bush Intercontinental, Newark Liberty and Cleveland Hopkins hubs ― an 800 per cent year-over-year increase. Mixed recyclables include newspapers, cans, and plastic bottles contributed by co-workers and customers via designated “EcoSkies” recycling bins in hub airport terminals.


“While Continental has had a robust recycling program for more than a decade, we have made substantial enhancements to the program throughout 2008 and 2009, increasing recycling onboard our aircraft, at our airport terminals and at other supporting facilities, like our food service kitchens,” says Leah Raney, Continental’s managing director of global environmental affairs. “We have had strong encouragement and support from our co-workers and customers, and we are excited to see such great results from our expanded recycling program.”

In 2008, Continental’s expanded inflight and flight-kitchen recycling efforts resulted in the recovery of more than 462 tons of plastic and aluminum, and more than 1,300 tons of cardboard. So far in 2009, Continental has far more than doubled that amount, recovering more than 1,500 tons of plastic and aluminum and more than 30,000 tons of cardboard.

Continental Airlines' huge Boeing 737 fleet includes 12 737-900s and 28 737-900ERs, the longest-fuselage versions of the high-selling 737 family

Continental Airlines' huge Boeing 737 fleet includes 12 737-900s and 28 737-900ERs, the longest-fuselage versions of the high-selling 737 family

Continental also works with contract caterers at the non-hub airports it serves to encourage recycling; today, more than 91 per cent of Continental’s domestic caterers and more than 87 per cent of its international caterers recycle.

The airline says that this year, due to its focus on increasing its recycling efforts, Continental has:

● Recycled enough aluminum to build 20 Boeing 777 airplanes;

● Saved more than 584,300 trees;

● Saved enough water to meet the monthly freshwater needs of 106,900 homes;

● Saved enough energy to heat and cool more than 49,600 homes;

● Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 35,208 metric tons; and

● Reduced carbon footprint to landfills by saving 116,900 cubic yards of waste.

Proceeds from Continental’s recycling program are re-invested in the program or donated to We Care, a nonprofit charity organization that provides financial assistance to Continental employees in need.

The company’s expanding recycling program is one of numerous environmental initiatives that Continental has undertaken in the past several years. The airline also partnered with Boeing, GE Aviation/CFM International and Honeywell’s UOP to perform the first biofuel demonstration flight by a commercial carrier in North America.

Continental says it is is 38 per cent more fuel efficient than it was in 1997 per revenue passenger mile and has undertaken comprehensive efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its ground fleet by testing alternative energy sources. The airline offers customers an optional carbon-offset program, offered through nonprofit Sustainable Travel International.

For more information on Continental’s EcoSkies program, go to www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/company/globalcitizenship/environment.aspx.