At Southwest Airlines, our Heart is to do what is right by championing our communities and respecting our resources. Whether in the air or on the ground, our Employees play a crucial role in protecting our environment.
In 2009, our Green Ambassadors, who are Employees throughout the Company dedicated to furthering our commitment to environmental efficiency and responsibility, were tasked with the challenge of finding a unique way to recycle that would not only help Southwest save money, but would help reduce our environmental footprint. Our passionate Employees collaborated with Hi-Cone®, the manufactures of ring carriers, to bring to life the Ring Leader Recycling Program™ at Southwest.
Our Green Ambassadors worked with Orlando Ops Agent Sheila to start the program, which later spread to different stations across the Company. The Ring Leader Program consists of collecting and recycling six pack rings across the Company and shipping them to Hi-Cone to use in open-loop recycling, which is when one or more recycled products are converted into an entirely new product, ultimately changing their properties. This practice helps reduce litter and waste in our landfills and limits the amount of natural resources used to create new plastic products. Today, 11 of our airport locations, including the ones that provision the drinks and snacks on our flights, are part of the Ring Leader Recycling Program™.
Los Angeles Customer Service Supervisor Pauline is one of our many amazing Green Ambassadors who has kept this program alive and thriving at Southwest. “It’s important to be involved in this program as a Company since we serve sodas and canned water on our aircraft and in our stations,” shared Pauline. “We have a large impact on the environment and it’s up to us to help save our planet.”
Since inception of the Southwest Ring Leader Recycling Program in 2009, Southwest has recycled over one million rings—that’s about 8,300 pounds of plastic kept out of landfills!
Through this program, Southwest has not only made an impact in the community, but also helped our Employees create lasting memories.
One of Pauline’s favorite memories in the program occurred when rings were ready to ship to Hi-Cone. “I was in the provisioning area putting the rings into boxes. It was windy and the wind blew over one of my boxes. The rings started flying everywhere and before I knew it, my Coworkers were running around ensuring we collected them all.” For Pauline, that was a sight to see—her Coworkers coming together for a great cause.