What happens to old planes? Here are some of the ways airline waste is recycled


Like any industry, the aviation sector produces a lot of waste and it’s not just your discarded plastic packaging, personal products or food.

Have you ever thought about what happens to an end-of-life aircraft or even staff uniforms?

We looked at some ideas from around the world to reduce the waste created by airlines.

Turn uniforms into handbags

Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) has produced a range of bags made from old staff uniforms.

ANA mechanics and maintenance crew wear light blue coveralls made from a strong, heavy duty fabric and feature multiple pockets – perfect for a bag.

Maintenance worker Takahashi Hideya came up with the idea of ​​turning those unwanted clothes into something new.

“The airline industry is under intense scrutiny environmental problems. I proposed it because, as an employee, I want to tackle the problem head on,” he explains.

In addition to wetsuits, ANA has also started recycling old life jackets.

ANA’s maintenance team consists of around 3,000 people, and the airline previously disposed of around 300 work clothes each year.

And according to the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, only about a third of the clothes thrown away in Japan are recycled.

What happens to old planes?

In Ivory Coast, entrepreneur Aziz Alibhai has bought a collection of 11 vintage planes and has big plans for them.

“I would like to turn them into conference rooms, a restaurant and, why not?, into luxury rooms,” he says.

“We can modify them easily – the cabins are insulated and with a bit of air conditioning it could work very well.”

Following the post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010 and 2011 which left some 3,000 dead, the businessman embarked on the purchase of planes left abandoned at the airport from Abidjan.

He now has a mixed collection of aircraft, including an ex-Soviet Union military cargo carrier and passenger planes built in the United States and the Netherlands.

Alibhai brought his planes to the site of his construction machinery rental company, located in Songon, about thirty kilometers from Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire.

The site also houses the facilities of Ivoire Academie, a third division football club of which Alibhai is the president.

Inside of Soccer on the ground, spectators can watch the game from the comfort of old airplane seats that have been stripped from planes. Some first-class seats are used on the terrace of Alibhai, where he invites visitors to enjoy a cocktail.

Eight of the planes were lined up on an 800-meter airstrip that leads to a lagoon. Alibhai envisions a terrace connecting the two giant sections, where visitors can relax and have a drink.

“We really are recyclers,” laughs Alibhai. He lists other structures made with salvaged objects in buildings on his estate, such as sheds built with truck frames and stairs made from bulldozer parts.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen airplanes creatively recycled as in 2021 twin brothers Ata and Khamis al-Sairafi opened a restaurant in the West Bank inside an old Boeing 707. know more about it here.

Turn an airplane into a keychain

German company Aviation tags takes the outer shell of old airplanes and cuts them into key rings.

They have everything from classic planes to commercial jets and military planes. Each tag tells the story of the aircraft it came from. You will find out where your aircraft was built and when it first and last flew.

Plus, every beacon is saved, so if you lose it, it will eventually come back to you.

Watch the video above to see ANA’s recycling project in action.


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