AJC@ATL

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Delta recycling old uniforms into backpacks, totes and messenger bags


After rolling out new employee uniforms, Delta Air Lines is recycling old uniforms and turning them into messenger bags, totes and other products to be sold later this year.

Atlanta-based Delta partnered with Looptworks, which manufactures “upcycled” products, to turn the old uniforms into things like bags, passport covers, wallets and pillows. The items will be sold online to the public starting in October.

“We’ve already heard and know that there are a lot of Delta fans who want a piece of Delta history,” said Ekrem Dimbiloglu, the airline’s director of uniforms. He also expects “current employees and retirees are going to gravitate to those products.”

Some of the items will also have leather from old airplane seats woven in. A backpack uses florescent colors from airport ground workers’ uniforms.

Delta said it is an effort to “combat the 15 million tons of textile waste” generated annually in the United States.

Employees had until Wednesday to recycle their old uniforms for this purpose.

At Delta’s home base and largest hub in Atlanta, the company collected more than 115 pallet-sized boxes of garments with donation boxes in employee airport parking, at its cargo facility, Technical Operations center and in crew lounges, Dimbiloglu said.

Because of Delta logos on the uniforms, the clothing can’t be donated or reused.

“There is still a security risk,” and some Delta Connection carrier employees wear uniforms similar to Delta’s old uniforms, Dimbiloglu said. He said the products made with the material will be unique -- and non-uniform, so to speak. “You may get a Delta logo on the front of it, you may get a Delta logo on the back. You may not get a Delta logo on it.”

Material without logos will be recycled into home insulation, punching bag filling and pet stuffing, donated to charity or used for other purposes.


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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.