Finnair is trying to wring as much as possible out of staff uniforms by transforming worse-for-wear gear into outdoor furniture.

After years of wear inside aircraft cabins, items that have been stitched or patched up one time too many could end up sitting outside a house or log cabin.

That’s because Image Wear, another Finnish brand, is to make outdoor or garden furniture out of old caps and jackets and other bits of air and ground staff uniforms.

The process takes “shredded textiles” from the worn-out garments and blends them with recycled plastic to create new “composite materials” which can be moulded – seamlessly, no doubt – into items such as garden chairs and pots for plants.

“Composite products are durable – their estimated lifespan is around 50 years, and at the end of their lifecycle, they can still be recycled into new products,” said Kati Tukiainen, the clothing brand’s responsibility manager.

Some carriers have announced they would recycle materials used in providing in-flight meals, or would switch from using plastic cutlery, cups and packaging to variants made from paper.

But Finnair reckons its uniform recycling makes it “one of the leading champions of sustainability in aviation,” an industry that is coming under heavy pressure from governments to switch from petroleum-based fuel to alternatives made from waste, grains and  hydrogen, though the technology has not been developed yet for the latter.

“Finnair takes sustainability seriously and we make sure our stylish high-quality crew uniforms are long-lasting and able to be refreshed and reused for years to come,” said Merja Lindberg, the Helsinki-based flag carrier’s uniform manager.

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