MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – RightCycle, a program sponsored by Kimberly-Clark, gifted Northern Michigan University’s Safety Department with two chairs made of recycled nitril gloves for participating in their program.

NMU diverted more than 500 pounds of single-use glove waste in 2020 and is preparing to ship another box weighing around 300 pounds. The gloves are used to make a variety of products including patio furniture, flower pots and plastic shelving.

“They had such a great year recycling PPE that they reached out to partners across the country with a list of products made from recycled materials that we could choose from,” said Kim Hegmegee, NMU occupational and environmental health specialist. “The chairs are great and even have cup holders that swing out from under the armrest. We’ve made a home for them in our office and checked out a sun lamp from Olson Library to set near them as a little wellness area.”

NMU began recycling single-use gloves with RightCycle in 2020, anticipating an increase in use due to COVID-19. The Safety Department put out bins first in “high-use” labs in the Chemistry, Biology and Nursing programs.

Full view of a chair made from recycled gloves, photo courtesy of NMU.

“This year, it was on my radar that the new indoor agriculture program should also have a bin,” Hegmegee said. “But before I had a chance to follow through, one of the students in the program actually tracked me down and reached out to request one. That was really cool because it showed awareness and initiative on the part of our students.” 

Gloves are collected and stored in gaylord pallet boxes, when the boxes are full they are shipped to Millwood, W.V. then processed into plastic pellets for molding into products.