Six months ago, Delta Air Lines employees began to strut around planes and airports across the world wearing new uniforms created by fashion designer Zac Posen.
But the old uniforms worn by the more than 86,000 employees of the Atlanta-based carriers weren’t dumped into a landfill. They have been turned into backpacks, travel kits, passport covers and other products — an effort by the carrier to recycle and cut back on waste.
Delta reported Thursday that it donated more than 350,000 pounds of “retired textiles,” including the retired red dresses, navy suits and black trench coats that Delta crew members have worn since 2006, to be converted into new products. The airline also donated the leather from old airline seats to make wallets and messenger bags.
Delta partnered with Portland, Ore.-based Looptworks, which turns recycled or discarded material into new items. The sale of the products supports charitable groups in Portland and Atlanta. Retired uniforms that were still in good condition were donated to the Salvation Army.
A pillow made of an old Delta uniform sells for $35 while a tote bag made from uniforms and bomber jackets goes for $160. A messenger bag made from uniforms and seat materials sells for $180.
Delta describes the effort as the “largest single-company textile diversion program in U.S. history.”