United Turns Old Uniforms Into Masks for Employees

Airline upcycles employee uniforms into 7,500 face coverings for airport operations workers on the front line at San Francisco International

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United Airlines delivered 7,500 face coverings over the past week to front line employees at San Francisco International Airport and the airline’s San Francisco Maintenance Base that were made from 12,284 pounds of uniforms United upcycled. United worked with upcycling partner, Looptworks to produce masks that would supplement the supply of face coverings that the airline already provides all employees and customers. 

United recently rolled out new Carhartt Company Gear for its 28,000 Technical Operations, Ramp Service and Catering Operations employees and originally planned to turn the surplus of older garments into carpet padding and insulation fiber. The company changed course last month to align with the latest guidance from the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) to wear face masks in public when social distancing is not possible.

“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 recently launched United CleanPlus, which brings together one of the most trusted brands in surface disinfection – Clorox – and the country’s top medical experts – Cleveland Clinic – to inform and guide United’s new cleaning, safety and social distancing protocols that includes touchless kiosks in select locations for baggage check-in, sneeze guards, mandatory face coverings for crew and customers, and empowering customers by contacting them 24 hours in advance and giving them the opportunity to choose a different flight – for free — when it looks like more than 70% of the seats will be filled.

Through partnering with Portland, Oregon-based Looptworks, United was able to supply employees with more sustainable, eco-friendly masks that are washable and reusable, recycled from uniforms, made in limited editions, and in the process save materials from landfills. 

In April, United became the first major U.S.-based airline to require flight attendants to wear a face mask while on duty, and beginning in May, expanded that mandate to include all employees and customers on board. This includes front-line workers like pilots, customer service agents and ramp workers when on board an aircraft, along with any other United employees traveling using their flight benefits.

SOURCEAero Crew News, June 2020
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United Airlines
United Airlines and United Express operate more than 4,500 flights a day to 339 airports across five continents. In 2015, United and United Express operated more than 1.5 million flights carrying more than 140 million customers. United is proud to have the world's most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. United operates more than 720 mainline aircraft, and this year, the airline anticipates taking delivery of 21 new Boeing aircraft, including 737 NGs, 787s and 777s, as well as six used Airbus A319 aircraft. The airline is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 192 countries via 28 member airlines. For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United's parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the NYSE under the symbol UAL.

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