Subaru of America Inc., Camden, New Jersey, announced on Aug. 19 that the company is launching a new initiative aimed at recycling personal protective equipment (PPE) waste in response to the increased disposal due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new initiative is an expansion of the automaker's existing recycling partnership with Trenton, New Jersey-based TerraCycle. According to the company, these collection efforts will divert improperly discarded PPE from landfills and incinerators through the deployment of TerraCycle's Zero Waste Boxes. These boxes will be used to collect disposable masks and gloves across more than 20 offices nationwide, including ports, regional training centers and the automaker's headquarters.
"At Subaru, our commitment to maintaining a safe work environment is as strong as our dedication to protecting and preserving our environment by keeping it clean," Alan Bethke, senior vice president of marketing at Subaru of America Inc., says. "This expansion of our years-long work with TerraCycle allows us to responsibly wear PPE while furthering the Subaru Love Promise commitment to reduce landfill trash and engage in smart environmental practices, simply because it is the right thing to do."
Zero Waste Boxes provide a recycling solution for all types of single-use PPE that is not recyclable through conventional recycling facilities. To properly collect and recycle PPE waste, each participating Subaru corporate location will utilize TerraCycle’s Disposable Gloves Zero Waste Box to recycle vinyl, nitrile and latex gloves and its Disposable Masks Zero Waste Box to recycle surgical and industrial facemasks.
When full, the boxes will be returned to TerraCycle for processing, and the collected waste will be cleaned, melted and remolded to make new products. Disposable masks are typically made from No. 5 polypropylene plastic and can be turned into a variety of items ranging from reusable shipping pallets to plastic lumber applications. Additionally, rubberized disposable gloves can be used by rubber manufacturers in low-grade applications for products such as matting.
"At TerraCycle, our mission has always been to eliminate waste, recycle the unrecyclable and use our innovative business solutions to minimize human impact on the planet," TerraCycle founder and CEO Tom Szaky says. "By spearheading this initiative to reduce the impact of PPE waste on the environment, Subaru continues to demonstrate their shared commitment to a greener future."