In 2014, Alaska Airlines, in partnership with Recology CleanScapes, began exploring opportunities to expand the recycling program at the local airline’s corporate facilities in SeaTac, Washington. Following the success of its award winning in-flight recycling program, Alaska Airlines went to work on the ground by introducing a new food waste collection program. Container audits indicated that much of the company’s landfill waste stream could have been recycled or composted instead. With the goal of 100% participation in food waste collection at local company buildings by mid-2016, the airline launched a pilot program at the Gold Coast Center on June 26, 2015.
To ensure a successful take-off, staff from Alaska Airlines worked closely with Recology CleanScapes to develop a phased approach to the program roll out. Critical to the success of the new program was the support of the Alaska Airlines Green Team, whose members had previously been jetting home with food scraps from work to compost in their curbside bin and were excited at the prospect of a more sustainable solution.
In June 2015, Alaska Airlines and Recology CleanScapes hosted an employee Lunch & Learn Event to introduce and prepare employees for the new food waste collection program. Prior to the event, employees participated in a baseline survey to gage the level of recycling and composting knowledge and experience. Only 45% of respondents composted at home and 41% were ‘not very confident’ to ‘somewhat confident’ on which items can be composted. To further assist employees, clear signage and color-coordinated indoor containers were placed in convenient stations throughout the buildings.
Regular check-in meetings with Recology CleanScapes helped plan for and avoid potential turbulence during the program roll out. Following weekly indoor container audits, visual progress reports were shared with stakeholders. The building now diverts to compost approximately 1,200 gallons of food waste, food-soiled paper and paper towels from the Gold Coast Center each month.
Due to the pilot’s success, plans are currently in place to introduce compost collection service at ten more Alaska Airlines buildings in the Puget Sound area.