Firms expect garment collections to exceed 175 tons in coming months
Kimberly-Clark Professional, a supplier of contamination control solutions for cleanrooms and laboratories and TerraCycle are expanding their cleanroom and laboratory garment recycling initiative to include a pilot programme for gloves.
The firms are piloting a nitrile glove recycling programme with Life Technologies Corporation, a life sciences supplier with 15 manufacturing sites in the US. Thermo Fisher Scientific is supplying the gloves and all recycling programme materials.
Staff at Life Technologies’ Pleasanton, California, US facility started recycling gloves in December 2011 to support the goal of becoming the first of the company's sites to achieve zero waste to landfill.
“In 2011, our Pleasanton manufacturing site raised its landfill diversion rate from 37–83%, and in early 2012 we expect to reach over 90%,” said Eve Nichelini, glove and garment recycling program manager at Life Technologies.
All of Life Technologies US sites are now considering glove recycling through this programme.
Kimberly-Clark Professional and TerraCycle launched the initial recycling programme in October 2011. Participating cleanrooms and laboratories have since sent in more than 7,000 lbs of garment waste, including coveralls, hoods, boot covers, hairnets and masks to be recycled into plastic products such as plastic lumber, park benches and picnic tables.
Participants have also requested more than 1,000 pallets of collection boxes to return additional garments, putting collections on track to reach more than 350,000 lbs in coming months.
“The launch of the programme last fall was a tremendous success,” said TerraCycle’s ceo Tom Szaky. “The reaction to the programme shows a need for recycling in this area, as well an industry desire to give a second life to garments and gloves.”
Participants can order the recycling programme through approved Kimberly-Clark Professional distributors and receive a package that contains everything required to start garment recycling in their facilities.
TerraCycle then collects, converts, and resells all waste materials as either bulk plastics or eco-friendly consumer products. The company's barcode system allows Kimberly-Clark Professional to track waste reduction and report that information back to each facility, so that customers can quantify their reduced environmental footprint.