Boeing recognized for Sustainability Leadership Award

Breakthrough recycling of excess aerospace carbon fiber diverts up to 1 million pounds of waste company-wide. 
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Boeing wins Sustainability Leadership Award

Source | Boeing

Boeing (Chicago, Ill., U.S.) received a 2020 Sustainability Leadership Award on August 13 from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM, Washington, D.C., U.S.). The award recognizes the company's innovative efforts to recycle aerospace carbon fiber, diverting waste away from landfills across the globe.

Since 2018, Boeing says it has partnered with ELG Carbon Fibre (Coseley, U.K.) to recycle excess aerospace carbon fiber. Boeing collects the scrap material, which ELG then treats in a furnace to remove binding agents. The result of this process is clean material that can be sold to third parties to make products such as electronic accessories and automotive equipment.

"Boeing is demonstrating that you can be environmentally sustainable in a cost-effective way," says Bryan Scott, vice president of Environment, Health and Safety at Boeing. "We are the largest consumer of aerospace-grade composite and the only company able to recycle 100% of it."

According to the company, the carbon fiber recycling process has now been implemented at 11 of Boeing's global airplane manufacturing sites. Most excess carbon fiber comes from sites in Australia, the Puget Sound region of Washington state, and Salt Lake City, Utah. Boeing will train companies on the recycling process, beginning with its supply chain.  

"Creating commercially viable solutions for recycling carbon fiber composites is good for the industry and good for the environment — it's a win-win," says Tia Benson Tolle, director of advanced materials in Product Development at Boeing.

Boeing says it is working to achieve several environmental goals by 2025, which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25%; water use and solid waste to landfill by 20%; energy use by 10%; and hazardous waste at worksites by 5%. Boeing's industry-leading fuel-efficient product offerings and work with industry stakeholders are reportedly enabling aviation to achieve a global approach to carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onward and a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.