Kimberly-Clark expands recycling for industrial customers

Kimberly-Clark Professional has expanded The RightCycle Program, a 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.

“As the program continues to grow and evolve, we remain committed to finding ways to expand our recycling capabilities.”

Since 2011, The RightCycle Program has allowed 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 U.S. 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.   

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.