Jet fuel constitues the largest portion of our materials use, by both weight and volume. We do, however, use many other products throughout our operations such as paper, electronic equipment, maintenance materials, chemicals, and batteries.
We strive to eliminate unnecessary materials use and to reduce waste. We also encourage reuse and recycling efforts to avoid throwing away still-useful materials by promoting employee awareness and empowering employees to identify additional ways to conserve resources, including onboard our aircraft.
In 2010, we established a new Waste Minimization Team, recognizing that we have a significant opportunity to improve our waste minimization, reuse, and recycling practices. The team is composed of American employees representing various divisions, including corporate environmental, corporate real estate, airport planning, customer experience, cargo, flight service, food and beverage, line maintenance, purchasing, and communications. The varied backgrounds, experience, and operational knowledge of these individuals will ensure that we can undertake a coordinated and comprehensive approach to new waste minimization and recycling initiatives.
American’s 2011 waste minimization goal is to implement new recycling opportunities—across our operations, facilities, and flights—that will reduce waste by 326,800 lbs per year,the equivalent of the weight of a B777 aircraft.
The Waste Minimization Team will work to create and sustain a comprehensive waste minimization program by:
- Reducing the amount of waste that American sends to landfill
- Increasing opportunities for customers to recycle during their travel experience
- Engaging employees in environmental education and awareness at work and at home
Reducing paper use on the ground and in the air
Over the past few years, we have made a concerted effort to "go paperless" to the degree possible. As part of this initiative, we:
- Highlight paper use reduction and recycling opportunities at our headquarters campus in Texas through the slogan: “Anything that Tears.” By placing this simple reminder to recycle paper products on posters and recycling bins, we help employees stay mindful of the impact that their personal actions can have on the environment
- Installed double-sided printers at many office locations
- Provide online alternatives to ticketing and printing boarding passes, including a feature that allows customers to download boarding pass bar codes onto their cell phones
- Equip our mechanics with portable laptops to reduce the need for maintenance printouts
- Use an online office supply catalog rather than ordering from a paper version of the catalog
- Print inflight magazines and boarding passes on thin-gauge paper stock
Eliminating hazardous waste
We are reducing the amount of hazardous waste generated at our facilities in an effort to reclassify facilities from large to small-quantity generators of hazardous under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act administered by the U.S. EPA. For example, American's Chicago airport facility (ORD) implemented a hazardous waste reduction initiative focused on paint solids that are generated during the maintenance of aircraft and ground support equipment. In past years, these paint solids were disposed of in containers that were also used to dispose of soiled cleaning rags. Because the rags were mixed with the paint solids, they also needed to be managed as hazardous waste.
In the fall of 2009, ORD implemented a rag recycling program where instead of being thrown away into hazardous waste containers, soiled rags were laundered and re-used. This program has helped reduce the hazardous waste stream from the rags by 24 percent and helped decrease the associated hazardous waste disposal expense by 30 percent.
We also look to replace hazardous chemicals used in maintenance operations with environmentally preferable alternatives. In 2010, the Tulsa Maintenance Base Auto Shop conducted extensive comparison testing of water-based solvents in their parts washers. Pleased with the results, Facilities Maintenance is replacing five mineral spirit parts washers with water-based washers, reducing the amount of chemical solvents that are used. In addition to being a safer alternative to minerals spirits, the new water-based solvent is Green Seal Certified and biodegrades in accordance with the ISO 9439 standard.
American Eagle saves trees… and fuel
In 2010, American Eagle sought to make its Latitudes inflight magazine more environmentally sound, while not increasing the weight of the magazine—a critical consideration, as additional weight would increase the amount of fuel burned in flight. Turning to its publisher, Eagle was able to locate and switch to a 100 percent recycled paper produced by Futuremark Paper, an environmentally friendly coated sheet paper. Latitudes is now printed on 100 percent recycled paper stock and carried in the seatback pocket on every American Eagle flight. Not only does using recycled content save trees, but it reduces landfill waste and CO2 emissions and minimizes water consumption.
Managing water use
In addition to conserving energy, American Airlines strives to use other natural resources, such as water, in as efficient and responsible way as possible. For example, we have implemented a state-of-the-art web-based water monitoring system at our headquarters campus. This software system turns sprinklers on and off depending on lawn moisture levels, as opposed to watering lawns according to a timer system. In addition to saving water, this approach provides American with metrics to help track changes and improvements over time.
American will also test, over the coming months, a reverse osmosis wastewater treatment system to help reduce the amount of water purchased. In this process, cooling water is treated and continuously reused rather than being sent down the drain.
As we pilot these and other water-conservation initiatives at our headquarters and global locations, we will share best practices through the Utilities Management Council. In this way, American can institutionalize the most effective practices across our entire portfolio of facilities.