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Dallas Zoo partners with Kimberly-Clark Professional to keep nitrile gloves out of landfills
For staffers at the Dallas Zoo, nitrile gloves from Kimberly-Clark Professional help ensure quality and safety when they care for and feed more than 2,000 zoo animals.
Through Kimberly-Clark's RightCycle Program, the zoo also has expanded the overall impact of its sustainability efforts by providing a safe, renewable way to dispose of these gloves.
The RightCycle Program works with universities, research and manufacturing facilities, zoos and a variety of other businesses to take hard-to-recycle products, such as used gloves, protective apparel and safety eyewear, and convert them into new consumer goods. Dallas Zoo estimates that it has been able to divert more than 1,000 pounds of gloves since starting the program in 2018 - roughly the weight of one of its female giraffes.
"When these gloves go to landfill, they can be consumed by wildlife or they can wind up in our oceans and harm marine life," says Shannon College, a Dallas Zoo animal supervisor who runs the zoo's Green Team. "Our team members were really excited, and they immediately agreed to participate in the program. Anything we can do to reduce that impact is vitally important to us."
Keeping plastic waste out of the environment is an integral part of the zoo's commitment to create a better world for animals. That's why the zoo partnered with The RightCycle Program to recycle the nitrile gloves that it uses for animal care, cleaning and food preparation.
For the Dallas Zoo, participating in the program isn't just about recycling waste from its own facilities, it's also about modeling responsible environmental practices to inspire others.
"We enjoy being able to show our guests various ways to change their behavior," adds Shannon. "For example, a lot of our zoologists wear the gloves during animal encounters, and they say to guests, 'This is one more way that that we're creating a better world for animals. We wear these gloves and we recycle them'."
The program has been enthusiastically received by both zoo employees and visitors. In addition to telling visitors about The RightCycle Program, the zoo shows guests what happens to the gloves after they are recycled.
"We purchased plastic flowerpots to show how used gloves go to The RightCycle Program to be turned into plastic products like the ones guests see around the zoo, with plants that benefit local pollinators, and herbs that we use as scent enrichment activities for our animals," explains Shannon. "And our guests are super-impressed. They don't realise that glove recycling is an option. They appreciate the extra steps we take to make these changes, and see us at the forefront of a program that is redirecting a large volume of waste in such a way."
Jennifer Shaffer, RightCycle Program manager for Kimberly-Clark Professional, explains further:
"Kimberly-Clark has a long relationship with the Dallas Zoo through our support of numerous conservation efforts and, of course, making products to help keep the Dallas Zoo staff and animals healthy and safe," she says. "But the real pride for us is to partner with the zoo on a program that provides such a tangible contribution to their mission to create a better world for animals."
The RightCycle Program is the first large-scale recycling initiative in the scientific and industrial products industries for non-hazardous laboratory gloves, single-use apparel and safety eyewear. The used products are transformed into flowerpots, shelving, lawn and garden furniture and other goods by US manufacturers. Since 2011, the program has helped zoos, aquariums, universities, research facilities, and a range of businesses divert more than 830 tons of waste from landfills.
Named one of the nation's Top 10 Zoos by USA Today, Dallas Zoo is the largest zoological experience in Texas. The zoo has been accredited continuously by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums since 1985, and features a 106-acre park, thousands of animals, and an education department that offers programs for all ages.
1st August 2019