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Ungreen Skies

Watchdog report slams airlines for lack of recycling.

Airlines are taking lots of heat from the public these days for flight delays and crowded in-flight conditions. And now they're taking heat from a consumer watchdog Web site for an alleged lack of recycling.

In February, ResponsibleShopper.org released a report titled “What Goes Up Must Come Down: The Sorry State of Recycling in the Airline Industry.” According to the report, approximately 75 percent of the waste generated during flights is recyclable, but only about 20 percent of the material is recycled. The airlines could recycle about 500 million more pounds of waste each year, the report adds.

The report evaluates airlines by looking at five factors: the variety of waste recycled, future in-flight recycling plans, the education of employees in onboard recycling programs, the size of their in-flight recycling programs and other in-flight sustainability initiatives.

“The good news is that airlines are starting to pay attention to recycling,” said Victoria Dreha, lead researcher for ResponsibleShopper.org, in a press release. “The bad news is that they have a long way to go to improve the situation. Fortunately, airlines can overcome any of the challenges to creating in-flight recycling programs, including employee education and involvement, knowledge of the type of waste produced, and a time- and space-efficient system.”

The report assigns each airline a letter grade. Delta received the highest grade with a B-. United ranked last, with an F. A spokeswoman for United told CNN.com that the airline is making recycling a priority. “We are collaborating with our catering partners to expand our onboard recycling programs that began in Hawaii and California to many of our U.S. routes later this year,” Sarah Massier, the airline's spokeswoman, told CNN.com.

To view the report in full, visit www.ResponsibleShopper.org.

In other recycling news:

  • According to a survey conducted by ProGreenSports, 60 percent of professional sports teams say they place “a moderate or high emphasis on recycling at games and office facilities.” More than 50 teams from the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball participated in the survey.

    “With professional teams, recycling ranked as the most highly emphasized sustainability initiative ahead of energy conservation, energy efficiency, green building and renovation, water conservation, green cleaning, green turf management and fan transportation,” said a ProGreenSports press release.

    The survey says that 75 percent of the teams currently track or are planning to track recycling rates in some or all of their facilities. More than 60 percent of the participants said they are conducting or are planning to conduct waste audits, and 40 percent said they are setting recycling goals. Furthermore, 25 percent of the teams replied that they have a full-time employee dedicated to “green” initiatives or are considering hiring a full-time worker that would focus on such efforts.

    To view the report in full, visit www.ProGreenSports.com.

  • Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty is considering a change to the city's recycling regulations that would require citizens to separate cardboard and plastic from the rest of their trash. According to an Associated Press report, the rule change would affect both commercial and residential property owners.

    This would augment the current D.C. Department of Public Works policy requiring the separation of newspaper, office paper, yard waste, metal and glass containers.

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