Air Canada responsibly recycles used pilot iPads with help of Canadian electronic recycler Greentec
Jun 01, 2021

Since 2015, Air Canada pilots have been using iPads in the flight decks of its aircraft, which helped eliminate cumbersome and heavy manuals, navigation charts, checklists and other materials. This simple gesture reduced the aircraft’s overall weight, which is a key factor in fuel consumption, and allowed Air Canada to eliminate between 110 and 200 tonnes of CO2e fleetwide.

After years of use, many of those iPads had fallen into a state of disrepair and were no longer of any use to Air Canada.

But rather than simply send 500 iPads off to the landfill, Air Canada partnered with electronic recycler Greentec of Cambridge, Ont., to responsibly dispose of them, in line with the airline’s environmental commitment to Leave Less. By working with Greentec to recycle the iPads, Air Canada was able to divert 328 kilograms from landfill, as well as another 100 kilograms of other forms of e-waste.

“The successful recycling of our iPads and other e-waste reduces our environmental impact as we strive to remain a global leader in sustainability in aviation. Through Greentec’s expertise in sustainable e-waste management and data destruction, Air Canada was able to securely and in an environmentally friendly way dispose of this equipment and keep our operations aligned with our goals of continuing to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Teresa Ehman, Senior Director of Environmental Affairs at Air Canada

Not only did Greentec help recycle the physical iPads, it also ensured critical data on the iPads was securely destroyed.

“Working with Air Canada, Greentec supported one of the largest airlines in the world to securely dispose of sensitive data and maintain pilot data privacy,” said Tony Perrotta, Greentec CEO and President. “Our goal is to assist all organizations in secure data destruction, as well as effectively reduce their electronic waste and contribute to the development of new devices with recycled parts. Together, we can all help advance the circular economy.”

Here is how the recycling process works:

Once the iPads arrived at Greentec’s facilities, a technician disassembled the devices and removed environmentally hazardous materials (Lithium-ion batteries).

The iPads were then loaded into a fully enclosed shredding system with negative pressure and active carbon filtration to remove any hazardous vapours and dust.

Valuable materials, including precious metals, copper, aluminum, and steel were next separated and recovered. Greentec’s Responsible Recycling (R2) Certification ensures all reuseable materials extracted from each iPad will be recycled in the construction of new devices, furthering the circular economy.

Recycling iPads is the latest in a number of initiatives undertaken by Air Canada to help reduce the amount of waste generated by the airline under its Leave Less commitment.

That includes the reduction of single-use plastics such as stir sticks, removing more than 38 million pieces of single-use plastic from onboard service in 2019 alone.

Old employee uniform pieces were donated to Brands for Canada who removed all branding and offered the items to people re-entering the workforce, without the means to purchase new clothes, and hoping to begin new careers.

In other cases, pilot uniforms were shredded and repurposed into stuffing for punching bags that were donated to community centres, converted into alternative items such as automotive stuffing.