Reusable cleanroom coveralls have a positive effect on the environment, finds study


A complete life cycle profile of each type of garment was produced and compared

Reusable cleanroom coveralls provide a significant improvement in energy, environmental footprint, water, and energy-associated emissions, a new study by the US American Reusable Textile Association (ARTA) has found.

The study, conducted by Environmental Clarity, compared the life cycle of reusable versus disposable cleanroom coveralls.

The starting point was natural resources in the ground (fossil materials, ores, etc.). The entire supply system to manufacture a final coverall was included. The use phase (laundry/wastewater treatment and sterilisation) and the end-of-life phase (landfill for disposable coveralls and reuse in other industries for reusable coveralls) were included to provide a complete life cycle profile.

The researchers said this is the first life cycle to include gamma sterilisation as used in the cleanroom sector.

The study found that reusable cleanroom coveralls have a significant positive effect on the environment.

They consume 56% lower natural resource energy; produce 57% lower carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions; consume 77% less total water (blue water), and offer a 95% reduction in solid waste stream at the cleanroom facility (not including reuse after 50 cycles).

Two market leading disposable coveralls — a flash spunbonded high-density polyethylene (HDPE) coverall and a spunbond-meltblown-spunbond polypropylene (PP) coverall – were compared with a market-leading reusable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) coverall.

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The HDPE coverall was found to be 43% lower in natural resource energy consumption and 41% lower in CO2 equivalent emissions than the PP coverall. The water consumption for the HDPE coverall was 12% lower than the PP coverall.