Sustainable Cleanroom Practices: Recycling

Can you use recycling as a method of sustainability in your cleanroom facility?

Like any other business, cleanrooms and other controlled environment facilities strive to become more eco-efficient. Operational waste is a large part of this picture, but for cleanroom facilities, it is a unique challenge. Any facility dealing with hazardous materials and other contaminates face difficulties in finding sustainable disposal options.

Major issues impeding cleanrooms from safely using traditional waste programs are the volume of items, materials used, and hazardous leachate. Safety garments and protective gloves compile a significant portion of cleanroom waste, and the synthetic polymers used in these items don’t degrade over time. Contaminates found on these items can seep into the groundwater in a landfill. Incineration can be a more sustainable option, but this releases significant quantities of greenhouses gases and pollutants.

Recycling is therefore a more appealing option, but this poses some challenges, too. Synthetic fiber garments with protective linings and other items made of multiple components are difficult and expensive to recycle. It doesn’t make financial sense to collect, sort, and process these materials through traditional recycling.

Fortunately, non-traditional recycling options have become more available in recent years. One such example is the large-scale recycling program RightCycle, started by Kimberly-Clark Professional. Cleanroom professionals store their used garments, boot covers, hairnets, nitrile gloves, and other related items in onsite collection boxes for recycling. The boxes are organized onto pallets and the sites coordinate pick-ups with TerraCycle.

Coordinating a non-traditional recycling program can help you divert thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds of garments and gloves from landfills. Companies like TerraCycle repurpose the materials for industrial pallets, recycled plastic lumber, and Adirondack chairs.

As you work to make your cleanroom more sustainable, don’t neglect the practices that keep it compliant. Cleanroom validation and certification are key components to a successful operation. When you need either, contact Gerbig Engineering Company. We’ve been working with cleanrooms for thirty years and have perfected our services for our customers. Call us at 888-628-0056 or email