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United Airlines is Upcycling Old Uniforms into Non-Medical Face Masks

United Airlines is Upcycling Old Uniforms into Non-Medical Face Masks

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United Airlines employees are seeing new life breathed into their old uniforms after the airline upcycled surplus uniform stock into 7,500 non-medical face masks. The masks have been donated to workers at United’s maintenance base at San Francisco International Airport after the airline collaborated with upcycling partner Looptworks – The company previously helped Delta upcycle 350,000 pounds of old uniform into fashion accessories like tote bags.

This latest collab between Looptworks and an airline, however, wasn’t for fashion but a necessity and in line with guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to wear face masks in public spaces when social distancing just isn’t possible.

United recently rolled out a new uniform for its ‘below wing’ employees meaning that it had a warehouse full of old surplus stock and had originally planned to transform it into carpet padding and insulation fiber. But when the COVID-19 struct and life quickly changed, United decided a change of plan was needed.

12,284 pounds of uniform has now been upcycled for the project and United says they are meant to “supplement” the face coverings that it already provides all employees.

“This was an opportunity to do something extra for our employees to keep them safe while also staying true to our commitment to be one of the most sustainable airlines in the world,” commented Janet Lamkin, United’s SVP and president for California.

“Recycling these unused uniforms into masks is a natural extension of our broader effort to overhaul our cleaning, social distancing and mitigation measures to ensure we’re doing everything possible to keep our employees and our customers safe,” she continued.

United made the wearing of face masks mandatory for flight attendants on April 24 and extended that requirement to passengers on May 4. In the last couple of weeks, United also announced a partnership with Clorox on what it calls its CleanPlus programme – which includes enhanced aircraft cleaning and perspex cough guards at check-in counters.

The airline, though, has moved away from the idea of onboard social distancing. That change of policy has the support of industry trade bodies and other airlines who are following suit.

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