Friday, April 10, 2020

The Vexing Sustainability Problem of Disposable Gloves

Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
I have seen quite a number of complaints online about the new litter menace:  plastic gloves. In my own neighborhood, I have seen many gloves on the streets. I recently had a grocery delivery and the delivery person left the gloves he used in my driveway.

I get it. Folks don't want to put potentially contaminated materials back in their car. Grocery store parking lots have really been impacted by this problem.

What is the solution?

First of all, if you are a regular user of plastic gloves, there are a number of companies that will recycle them. Check out TerraCycle here for an option. You basically buy a box and fill it up. When it is full, you mail it to TerraCycle and they will recycle them for you. Kimberly-Clark has a recycling program for institutions that utilize lots of medical equipment called RightCycle that recycles plastic gloves.

It is clear that while the TerraCycle and RightCycle programs are great, they are not currently meeting the needs of the public. We need to find a way to collect these plastic gloves for easy recycling.

Perhaps we will develop used glove recycling stations at grocery stores or places of worship where we can take our used gloves. There are compostable and biodegradable plastic gloves available on the market at well. I don't know how effective they are for combating COVID 19.

It is clear we have a new plastic glove waste problem and I suspect we will have solutions to this problem soon. Necessity is the mother of invention.

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