Frequently Asked Questions


Does WINGS publish a list of which cities recycle for the benefit the Wings Foundation & which ones don’t?


Unfortunately, No.  This information can change quickly and without advance notice.  So it would be very difficult to keep an updated list and everyone informed in a timely manner.  However, every hub city recycles and most down line cities either recycle or deadhead back to hub cities.  So please recycle on every flight


At those cities where WINGS does not benefit, why should Flight Attendants bother to recycle?


We all have a global responsibility to be Green and improve our environment.  Most cities will recycle the cans.  Consider that a can in the trash ends up in a landfill and will not decompose for hundreds of years.  A can that is recycled will be back on the shelf in a little as six weeks.  It also assists you and your fellow flight attendants with trash management.  Most of our aircraft have limited space in the trash receptacles and the cans take up must less space when returned to an insert/drawer.


Do cans need to be emptied and separated from the unopened cans?


No.  As long as the cans are in an insert/drawer, they will be recycled.


When the FA crew runs out of inserts/drawers, can they just place the cans in a market bag and put a note or recycling tag on it?


No.  Due to strict USDA requirements, the caterer is not allowed to retrieve cans from trash receptacles, market bags, oven racks, or any location other than an insert/drawer.


Where do the proceeds from the recycling of aluminum cans onboard go?


The monies from recycling are used to fund the WINGS Flight Attendant Disaster Relief Fund (FADR).  In 2017, we were able to give out over $135,000 in FADR assistance to those effected by the hurricanes and wild fires.


Do International Flights get their cans recycled?


YES!  Cans are recycled on ALL U.S. International inbound flights.  Other countries may have their own recycling programs when regulations allow.  So again, please be Green and always “Recycle On Every Flight, Every Day, Every City.”


Does it matter which cart or galley compartment the cans are placed?


We can use any galley compartment you use, however, there are strict USDA guidelines on carts that require the insert/drawer to be placed back into a beverage cart or supply cart.

Please avoid carts with trash, fresh food, meal trays, entrée racks, etc.


Should Flight Attendants recycle on double catering flights?


ABSOLUTELY!  In fact, it’s almost guaranteed those flight will be returning to a Hub City on the second leg where WINGS will benefit from the recycling.


What about double catered flights that overnight?


Yes!  Please make every effort to recycle on those flights so the cans will be returned the next day to the catering city.  If you notice the cans are collected the day before are not remaining onboard, please email WINGS at with the flight number, city and date.


What about plastics, paper, newspapers or magazines on our flights?


Effective November 2012, American Airlines has introduced a procedure to collect these items for recycling in clear plastic bags.  Please avoid placing the cans in these bags as WINGS will not receive any of the proceeds.  The collection procedures for the cans has not changed and an insert/drawer remains the only approved location for them to ensure they are returned to the catering kitchen for recycling.


Does American Airlines recycle plastic on Hawaii flights?


The State of Hawaii requires that all beverage containers (plastic, glass, and aluminum) are returned back to the mainland for recycling and disposal.


Why does WINGS recycling profit fluctuate so much from year to year?


There are various factors that come into play.  Aluminum is a commodity and fluctuates along with the health of the economy.  Cans have also become lighter or thinner over the years, so it takes more products to produce a pound of aluminum.

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