Getting straight-armed with your glove recycling efforts?

Read how this food manufacturer pushed back by participating in this gloves takeback program 

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Lundberg Family Farms of Richvale, Calif., grows, produces, packages, and markets 150 organic, gluten-free, and whole grain food products using organic and eco-positive methods. The third-generation family company’s motto is “Embrace wholesome,” so it’s only natural that embracing sustainability would be an integral part of the company’s culture.

“Our company is committed to nourishing a healthier planet and protecting the environment for generations to come,” said Ashley Vega, the company’s sustainability specialist.

A zero waste culture is a crucial ingredient of the business model. Missing from its zero landfill recipe was a sustainable outlet for its used nitrile gloves that had been worn in production. The gloves represented about 15 percent of the company’s landfill waste.

Lundberg participated in Kimberly-Clark Professional’s (KCP) RightCycle program.

The program is designed to enable companies with waste reduction goals to outlet hard-to-recycle items, such as nitrile gloves and single-use apparel, to be converted into eco-friendly consumer goods.

The way the takeback program works is fairly simple. KCP provides a receptacle for the discarded gloves and single-use apparel, which the manufacturer then uses to ship to a KCP recycling center when full. The items are sorted and processed into pellets or powder, which becomes the raw material for new molded durable goods such as patio furniture, shelving, and flower pots (see Figure 1).
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Figure 1: Kimberly-Clark Professional aims to make zero landfill achievable by facilitating a simple takeback program.

Since its inception in 2011, the RightCycle program has helped divert more than 300 tons of waste from landfills. More than 150 companies currently participate in the program, a Kimberly-Clark representative reported.

Zero Waste Certification Well in Hand

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Figure 2:  Lundberg Family Farms credits the KCP RightCycle program with helping it achieve zero waste certification by taking back and recycling its spent nitrile gloves.

Lundberg recycled nearly 1 ton of nitrile gloves in its first few months in the RightCycle program. “You’re either throwing the gloves away or giving them a second life. The latter is always better,” Vega said.

The company expects its glove waste landfill diversion rate to total 4 tons annually.

“The changeover was really painless,” Vega relayed. “And our employees are actively recycling the gloves even more than we anticipated.”

The company achieved platinum Zero Waste Facility Certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council. Vega credits the RightCycle program with helping it achieve the certification.

Kimberly-Clark Professional recently expanded the takeback program to the industrial segment.RightCycle is part of the company’s Exceptional Workplaces initiative.

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