"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," says 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 in order to help our customers reach their goals and to deliver on our purpose of Better Care for a Better World."
The company says that 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.