United Airlines has transformed 12,284 pounds of old company uniforms into 7,500 face coverings.
The upcycled masks were delivered to frontline employees at the San Francisco International Airport this past week.
According to United Airlines, the company changed course last month to align with the latest guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to wear face masks in public when physical distancing is not possible.
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“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,” said Janet Lamkin, United Airlines SVP and president, 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.”
United’s masks are washable and reusable, are made in limited editions, and save materials from landfills, according to the company.
In April, United became the first major US-based airline to require flight attendants to wear face masks while on duty, and in May, the company expanded the mandate to include all employees (pilots, customer service agents, and ramp workers) along with customers on board.