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Kimberly-Clark Professional expands recycling initiative

Company expects cleanroom and laboratory garment collections to exceed 350,000 lb in coming months.

KC_Terracycle.jpgKimberly-Clark Professional, global provider of contamination control offerings for cleanrooms and laboratories, and upcycler TerraCycle have announced that they are expanding the world's first cleanroom and laboratory garment recycling initiative to include a pilot program for gloves, after reaching key collection milestones in the program's first six months.

Since the program's launch in October 2011, participating cleanrooms and laboratories have sent in more than 7,000 lb of garment waste, including coveralls, hoods, boot covers, hair nets, and masks, to be recycled into plastic products such as plastic lumber, park benches, and picnic tables. Participating locations have requested more than 1,000 pallets of collection boxes to return additional garments, signifying that collections are on track to reach more than 350,000 lb in coming months. Kimberly-Clark Professional and TerraCycle are actively pursuing additional locations for garment collection.

"The launch of the program last fall was a tremendous success," says TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky. "The reaction to the program shows a need for recycling in this area, as well an industry desire to give a second life to garments and gloves. This new direction has been beneficial to TerraCycle, Kimberly-Clark Professional, laboratories and cleanrooms, and most importantly, the environment."

Kimberly-Clark Professional, Roswell, GA, is one of Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s four business segments. Kimberly-Clark markets its brands in more than 175 countries. These brands include Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend.

Kimberly-Clark Professional and TerraCycle say the cleanroom recycling program is the first large-scale recycling system to be implemented for nontraditional cleanroom waste and reinforces Kimberly-Clark Professional's commitment to helping customers create "Exceptional Workplaces" that are safe, clean, and sustainable. Companies can order the recycling program through approved Kimberly-Clark Professional distributors and receive a package with everything required to initiate 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 bar-code system allows Kimberly-Clark Professional to track waste reduction and report that information back to each facility, allowing customers to quantify their reduced environmental footprint.

"It is our continued goal to equip our customers with products and services that positively impact both their profitability and sustainability and help them create Exceptional Workplaces for their employees," says Randy Kates, director, Global Scientific Business, Kimberly-Clark Professional. "By working toward a point where we're enabling pharmaceutical manufacturing and cleanroom facilities to recycle gloves in addition to other cleanroom garments, we're extending our commitment to the customer and to the environment."

Life Technologies Corp., a life sciences firm with 15 manufacturing sites in the U.S., is piloting a nitrile glove recycling program with Kimberly-Clark Professional, TerraCycle, and Thermo Fisher Scientific, which supplies the gloves as well as all recycling program materials. Employees at Life Technologies' Pleasanton, CA, 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 percent to 83 percent, and in early 2012, we expect to reach over 90 percent," notes Eve Nichelini, glove and garment recycling program manager for Life Technologies. "The recycling program with TerraCycle, Kimberly-Clark Professional, and Thermo Fisher Scientific is critical to meeting this goal because gloves account for a significant percentage of Pleasanton's total waste. Employee support is very high because people are motivated by the knowledge that they're keeping hundreds of pounds of gloves each week from landfill. They also feel better about changing their gloves frequently. All of Life Technologies’ U.S. sites are now considering glove recycling through this innovative program."

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