The Tufts University Campus Sustainability Council identified laboratories and hospital facilities as the greatest source of opportunity for increased sustainability on our campuses. In a waste audit, the University of Illinois found that disposable gloves alone made up 10% of lab waste when measured by weight. The Tufts Green Fund has provided funding to pilot a nitrile glove recycling program at Tufts University. To do this, we are teaming up with Kimberly-Clark’s Nitrile Glove Recycling Program (“RightCycle”) to divert this waste to a more environmentally conscious life cycle. This pilot program will assess the amount of waste diverted as well as the environmental impacts of the program.
How to start recycling nitrile gloves
Contact Breanna.firstname.lastname@example.org to enroll in the program. Your lab will fill out a brief questionnaire so that we can ensure you are eligible for the recycling program
Once approved, your lab will undergo a short training session on the program. Lab personnel oversee the program’s implementation in their lab.
Collect Kimberly-Clark nitrile gloves (bin provided). Any gloves which are currently sent to the landfill are eligible for this program. This includes gloves not used with U or P class hazardous chemicals (defined by the EPA here) and gloves that would normally be autoclave sterilized before disposal.
When the bin is full
Check for and remove any non-glove items
(If necessary) autoclave to sterilize following normal procedure
Leave in central collection bin for recycling
Why Kimberly-Clark gloves?
This program does require that participating labs use Kimberly-Clark brand nitrile gloves. While we realize this change may be inconvenient, the Kimberly-Clark take-back program costs significantly less than other glove recycling options, giving this project a better chance at long term implementation. Kimberly-Clark brand gloves are available through the Tufts Marketplace from Fisher Scientific and in most cases cost equal to or less than currently used gloves. Glove selection assistance and samples are available for interested labs. Please contact Breanna.email@example.com for more information.
Questions & Answers
Q. Can only Kimberly-Clark gloves be recycled? A. Yes. We are participating in an up-cycling take-back program through Kimberly-Clark. This program requires that the raw materials come from a known formulation of nitrile glove materials. Other manufacturers have their own proprietary glove formulations and cannot be included in the recycling program. Kimberly-Clark nitrile gloves can be purchased on the Tufts Marketplace through Fisher Scientific.
Q. Can other types of gloves (latex, blended) be included? A. No, only nitrile gloves are currently accepted.
Q. Can chemically contaminated gloves be recycled. A. Gloves without visible chemical contamination and which were not used to handle any U or P class chemicals or radiation can be recycled.
Q. Is the program free? A. Yes, the program is free to labs. The Tufts Green Fund is paying for the required materials during the pilot.
Q. What happens to the gloves? A. The gloves are shipped to the recycling facility, where the material is processed into nitrile powder. This material is molded into new eco-responsible plastic products and durable goods, including flowerpots, park benches, lawn furniture, and frisbees.
For more information check out these links and resources:
RightCycle program brochure by Kimberly-Clark, PDF