Southwest Airlines launched LUV Seat, a project to recycle 43 acres of leather from its old 737 seats into leather goods.
The carrier is donating the used leather to a non-profit in Nairobi to use the leather to produce shoes and soccer balls to be given to the local community, according to an announcement on its website.
Southwest also has partnered with a nonprofit organization in Malawi to develop a training program to teach school kids how to make leather items, such as backpacks, and generate proceeds for the school.
"With the pilot program of LUV Seat, we're embarking on a new vision of social impact through training, job creation and ultimately product donations," said Bill Tiffany, vice president of supply chain management.
The carrier is replacing the leather seats with a new seat called Evolve. The redesign to the lighter seat reduces the weight of each 737-700 by more than 600 pounds.— Gay Nagle Myers