Aviation finance company, Avolon, has partnered with Soisa Aircraft Interiors on ‘Waste to Wonder’, a project that is working to convert scrap material from old aircraft, such as seat covers and curtains, into craft products rather than being sent to landfill.
Already a large amount of waste cabin materials, including over 800kg of leather, have been donated to members of the Tarahumara tribe in Chihuahua, Mexico, who are making them into traditional artisan products such as wallets, bags, aprons and tablecloths. The sales proceeds help to provide an income stream for the families of the 55 Tarahumara tribe members who have so far participated in the project.
There should be more to come, as Avolon has an owned, managed and committed fleet of 875 aircraft, and works with 149 airlines in 65 countries.
The project is supported by FODARCH (Fomento y Desarrollo Artesanal de Chihuahua), a government body that promotes indigenous cultural traditions. The body provides training in making products, and also facilitates the sale of the finished products in a shop popular with visitors to Chihuahua, which is the largest state in Mexico.
The ‘Waste to Wonder’ project forms part of Avolon’s sustainability strategy, which includes a commitment to support the circular economy by increasing the reuse and recycling of materials from old aircraft in a sustainable manner. Avolon recently joined a coalition of partners in a pledge to use only tear-down facilities accredited by the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA).
“The Waste to Wonder project provides an excellent example of how, through creativity and collaboration, better use can be made of materials in the aviation supply chain that were previously regarded as scrap,” said Enda Swan, head of technical at Avolon. “The ability of the Tarahumara tribe members in Chihuahua to produce beautiful artisan products out of old leather from seat covers has been inspiring to see. Avolon is committed to finding more opportunities to decommission end-of-life aviation materials in a sustainable manner.”
Jacobo Mesta, chief executive of Soisa Aircraft Interiors added that, “Working more sustainably is a key objective at Soisa, and this project has provided a perfect opportunity to convert something previously regarded as waste into a craft product that can be sold to improve the livelihoods of local communities.”