Industrial glove manufacturer Aquila has seen that in the past year we have all become very much more aware of the environmental impact of waste PPE, and yet we have never needed personal protection more. This whole area used to be of relatively low interest but has now been brought into sharp focus for all types of protective equipment – a situation that calls for manufacturers and users alike to be environmentally aware with an active conscience that motivates action in the form of ethical practice.
Kwan Lo, MD of international glove manufacturers Taste International, explains: “Through the Aquila brand of industrial gloves we have been leading the way to environmental awareness for our industry. For example, we have cut out all non-recyclable packaging and are continually working to extend the useful life of our products while searching for ways to reduce the use of resources in manufacture. This is not just something for the healthcare industry – single-use PPE of all kinds is not sustainable – we should all be looking to ensure that our products can be used for longer, and to maximise recycling.”
Aquila found that their approach required a multi-stage plan to raise quality for an extended life cycle, to build in laundering capability e.g. by production of cut protection gloves like their NFU and DNF series which may be washed 14 times without loss of performance. Also, to research better materials and technologies for greater wearability, like the Alkimos spiral weave thread with HPPE, then to replace non-recyclable packaging and to encourage bulk deliveries which minimise the use of transport resources.
Taste International are just one PPE company doing their best to consider the multiple factors involved so they do not compromise their goals. Says Kwan Lo “People are so busy firefighting at the moment, but now is the time to think ahead and find ways to limit waste – and to deal with any unavoidable waste that does occur.”
Perhaps the biggest factor identified by Aquila has been the huge expansion of “one-time-use” PPE where it can be seen that doubling the useful life of a glove immediately would halve the waste and other associated environmental impacts. The advent of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic has dramatically emphasised these concerns.