Student news

Chemists mark glove waste recycling milestone

Students and staff in the School of Chemistry are marking having saved one million pairs of disposable gloves from landfill.

The School has recycled about 85 per cent of all its used laboratory gloves – amounting to 15 tonnes – since introducing a pioneering recycling scheme in late 2014.

Disposed gloves are processed to make raw materials used for furniture, floor tiles and sports pitches.

Waste reduction

The School of Chemistry uses 200,000 pairs of gloves every year for teaching and research, so its recycling efforts represent a considerable reduction in waste.

Its achievements have sparked interest from other universities, the National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and even a hairdressing salon in Birmingham.

The School was the first in Europe to sign up to its scheme, set up by Kimberly-Clark and managed by TerraCycle.

Reused material

Used gloves are collected every six to eight weeks for processing.

They may be blended with recycled plastics to form a wood replacement composite board material used to manufacture furniture.

Alternatively, gloves may be milled at low temperatures into a powder, which can be used for rubber flooring or ground covering for football pitches, athletic fields and tracks.

The scheme was introduced to the School by Tim Calder, Waste Management Officer.

We are proud of our recycling record. We use significant numbers of gloves to protect our staff and students from chemical compounds, but are fully committed to reducing the environmental impact.

Professor Colin PulhamHead of School of Chemistry


Academic staff have been working closely with our fantastic stores operational team to make this happen. Keeping 15 tonnes of gloves out of landfill since late 2014 is an amazing achievement.

Professor Polly ArnoldCrum Brown Chair of Chemistry

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