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Recycling Success

School of Chemistry keeps 15,000 kg of disposable gloves out of landfill
Tim Calder with one of the gloves

The School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh’s Glove Recycling Scheme has just passed the combined total of 15,000 kg of disposable gloves and rescued them from going straight to landfill. The scheme started in late 2014. That is the equivalent weight of 2.5 T-Rex, 4.6 Orcas, 33 Polar Bears, 3000 Golden Eagles or 75,000 bumblebees!

Infographic showing what 15,000kg of gloves is equal to

‘We are very proud of our record on recycling our waste here at the School. Whilst we do need to use significant numbers of gloves to protect our staff and students when handling chemical compounds, we are fully committed to reducing our environmental impact and this glove recycling initiative has been a fantastic step on that continuing journey.’

Professor Colin Pulham, University of Edinburgh, Head of School of Chemistry

‘The School of Chemistry was the first in Europe to take advantage of this glove recycling scheme.

Academic staff work closely with our fantastic Stores Operational team. To keep 15,000kg of disposable gloves out of land-fill is an amazing achievement since starting the scheme in late 2014!’

Professor Polly Arnold, Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry

‘Over the years we have endeavoured to find ways of recycling items that we don’t have waste streams for. In February 2014 one of the Fisher Scientific representatives told us about a new Nitrile/Latex gloves recycling scheme that Kimberly-Clark had set up. It took us six months to get it operational and we were the first in Europe to sign up. We buy 200,000 pairs of gloves every year so this is a considerable amount of waste we’re saving with positive environmental implications.’

‘The School recycles around 85% of all the gloves we use, which is phenomenal. Our chemical management is another feather in our cap, which receives national and international interest.’

Tim Calder, School of Chemistry Waste Management Officer

Tim implemented the scheme back in late 2014 and since then it has prompted keen interest from a wide variety of sources.  This has included other Universities, a hairdressing salon in Birmingham, The National Museum of Scotland, SEPA, Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm Bristol and a Somerset based artisan cheese maker.

Every 6-8 weeks TerraCycle come and take the gloves away. They are bulked at a warehouse in Lancashire and then taken for processing in Somerset, where the gloves are blended with recycled plastics to form a wood replacement composite board material used to manufacture furniture.

Glove products are sterilized through processes such as gamma radiation and then they are cryo-milled to freeze and size-reduce the rubber into a powdered state.  This powder can be used for rubber flooring applications including lab or classroom tiles and other applications include ground covering for football pitches, athletic fields and tracks.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019