Kimberly-Clark Professional, a global leader in contamination control solutions for cleanrooms and laboratories, has expanded The RightCycle Program, the first large-scale recycling effort for non-hazardous lab, cleanroom and industrial PPE waste. Flex-film plastic packaging from Kimtech and KleenGuard products will now be accepted for recycling through the program.
“This is a significant step in addressing a challenging waste stream that currently has very low recycling rates compared with other commodities, such as paper and cardboard,” said Mike Haley, Vice President of PPE at Kimberly-Clark Professional.
Since 2011, The RightCycle Program has empowered more than 900 customers to divert 3.7 million pounds of waste.
Film and flexible packaging are composed of various substances and recycling them requires a specific approach. In 2019, only 5% of managed plastic waste in the United States was recycled, according to scientists with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The RightCycle Program has established partnerships and processes to properly recycle these items.
In addition to plastic packaging waste, The RightCycle Program collects previously hard-to-recycle personal protective equipment (PPE) such as garments, masks, gloves, and goggles. These items are then recycled by regional partners that create new plastic pellets, which are used to produce consumer products and durable goods, including flowerpots and lawn furniture, benches, and bicycle racks.
Originating in the United States with a few scientific manufacturing customers, The RightCycle Program is now available in nine countries across Europe and North America with a wide range of customers that include universities, zoos, laboratories, manufacturing facilities, breweries, and a variety of other businesses.
The RightCycle Program contributes to Kimberly-Clark’s global 2030 ambition, which is to improve the lives of 1 billion people in underserved communities around the globe with the smallest environmental footprint. Kimberly-Clark understands that a strong and enduring focus on safeguarding natural systems is just as essential to helping people live a better life. To that end, the company is focused on the areas where it can make the biggest difference – climate, forests, water and plastics.
Kimberly-Clark aspires to be at the forefront of the transition to a circular, reuse economy by reducing waste, promoting waste-handling system improvements, and innovating new ways of providing people with the products that they need to live their best lives. In 2021, the company expanded The RightCycle Program in Europe to other categories to include the recycling of both plastic dispensers and hand towels. This will provide Kimberly-Clark Professional with an even greater opportunity to reduce its environmental footprint in collaboration with its customers.