Alarmingly, only 9% of plastic waste is recycled, with 19% being incinerated, 50% ending up in landfills, and 22% going into uncontrolled dumpsites or the sea (1).
The environmental impact of PPE is significant, but PPE plays a vital role in safeguarding workers in a variety of industries – so sustainable solutions need to be considered, whilst still maintaining a pinnacle standard of safety.
The Intersection of PPE and Sustainability
Sustainable PPE focuses on minimising its environmental footprint throughout its lifecycle. At various stages of PPE production, changes can be implemented to ensure the final product has the lowest possible impact on the environment.
Sustainable PPE should focus on:
Making production more efficient:
- Investing in local facilities and supporting local communities contributes to a greener future, by reducing travel distance of products and raw materials, and therefore CO2 emissions.
- Using rPET can reduce water consumption by up to 90% compared to producing virgin PET. (2)
Reducing plastic waste:
- Producing durable PPE means maximum quality, resulting in less product waste.
- For every ton of plastic that is recycled, 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space is saved. Ensuring we recycle as much plastic as possible will extend the lives of our landfill sites (3)
- Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That’s the equivalent of throwing five bags of rubbish on every foot of coastline around the world. (4)
How does this impact safety?
The primary aim of PPE is to protect workers, so sustainability cannot come at a compromise. In some cases, adopting sustainable options for PPE products can contribute to the safety of workers, due to various reasons:
Longevity and Durability: Manufacturing sustainable PPE that is designed to last, without compromising on quality, means the need for replacement is less frequent. Not only does this reduce waste and costs for both employers and employees, but having durable PPE reduces the risk of damaged PPE being used – further improving safety at work.
Reduced Chemical and Toxin Exposure: By using recycled materials to produce sustainable PPE, exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins in manufacturing processes is minimised. This not only protects the environment but reduces the exposure of these chemicals to workers.
Compliance and Reputation: using sustainable PPE demonstrates a commitment to ethical and environmentally responsible business practices, enhancing reputation and ensuring compliance. Choosing products with accreditations such as The Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) ensures that recycled materials are verified, and positively contribute to the environment.
As part of Globus’ commitment to becoming a Net Zero Safety Solution Provider, we are constantly introducing innovations across our product ranges to minimise our impact on the environment. At the same time, quality remains of utmost importance with safety underpinning our evolving strategic goals.
When choosing sustainable PPE, it is important that credibility on claims is underpinned by evidence and backed by accreditation where appropriate, and do not engage in greenwashing. Greenwashing is a tactic used to make a company or product appear environmentally friendly, without meaningfully reducing their environmental impact (5).
To find out more about how your organisation can take a genuine step towards Sustainability and reducing your carbon footprint, view our range of RCS and SEDEX-accredited products here: https://globusgroup.com/products/sustainability-range
- The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and associated environmental challenges: A study on Dhaka, Bangladesh - PMC (nih.gov)
- Plastic pollution facts and information (nationalgeographic.com)
- The World Economic Forum (weforum.org)
- Greenwash: what it is and how not to fall for it | Greenpeace UK