With humble beginnings as a small business selling to Vancouver’s dock workers in 1918, Watson Gloves is now Canada’s largest manufacturer and distributor of gloves to the industrial and retail market. The large volume of gloves used in the industrial market means that often gloves are thrown into the garbage after they are soiled or worn out. With the vast amount of waste that comes from single-use PPE and regular long-term wear, Watson Gloves is focusing on beginning of life and end of life manufacturing initiatives to help divert much of this textile waste by developing gloves using innovative sustainable materials. From automotive and waste management to food handling and gardening, Watson Gloves provides sustainable hand protection for everyone at work, at home and at play.
Watson Gloves’ team of glove experts are committed to innovating with the environment in mind, and are searching for sustainable materials and designs to incorporate into their products, achieving both high quality craftsmanship and planet approval.
In 2019 Watson Gloves introduced Green Monkey™ biodegradable gloves made with a Reclaim™ additive that accelerates biodegradation in modern landfill conditions and enables these gloves to effectively degrade into organic matter and renewable biogas. These will fully degrade in 10 years in moderate landfill conditions (ASTM D5526) compared to 200 years for regular disposable gloves.
Then in 2020, Watson Gloves launched a glove line made from WasteNot™ yarn, a 100% RPET GRS Certified yarn made from single-use water bottles diverted from landfills. Since then, they have been able to divert over 826,000 plastic bottles – that’s over twelve 20-foot shipping containers! Now, in 2021, they were the first to introduce biodegradable nylon seamless knit gloves to the market. Also using the Reclaim ™ additive, these will biodegrade in approximately 5 years in modern landfill conditions and generate renewable biogas (ASTM D5511 shows up to 24.1% biodegradation in 233 days). Regular nylon yarn can take anywhere from 30+ years to degrade.
Watson Gloves is just starting their sustainable journey, with a long way to go, but has already become an industry changer, paving the way for others to see that there are alternative materials out there and a way to manufacture and distribute sustainable gloves. Based on the core belief that every industry matters in the global shift towards sustainability, Watson Gloves’ products have opened the door to many new customers, inviting them to make the switch to products using sustainable materials and contribute to the circular economy.
Sustainability Is The Standard
In addition to using the latest textile design and materials, Watson Gloves abides by today’s most recognized textile standards and certifications. From the American Society for Testing and Materials, Watson Gloves uses the two most well-established standards, ASTM D5526 and ASTM D5511, for assessing biodegradability in anaerobic environments, aka your modern landfill. Tested under ASTM D5526, a more stringent, long-term test, Watson Gloves’ Green Monkey™ gloves degrade up to 26.5% in 390 days.
Their WasteNot™ yarn is also certified under the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) and Global Recycled Standard (GRS), international product standards developed by the non-profit, Textile Exchange. Together, the RCS and GRS establish specific criteria for certification such as chemical restrictions, 5% recycled content (20% to meet the GRS) and traceability throughout the entire production process to provide greater consumer confidence and assurance in the sourcing of the material.
Watson Gloves is also working towards meeting the globally-accepted OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 criteria which certifies that a product is safe for handling and does not contain any harmful substances.
Meeting such reputable standards and certifications is a way for Watson Gloves to hold themselves accountable, fulfill the promises they make to their customers and deliver only the best products. This accountability is also shaping a greener market and pushing the world to be innovative and make products that are safer for people and the planet alike.
At The Core
Authentic, Family, Integrity, Fun, Continuous Improvement – These are the core values that drive Watson Gloves’ commitment to their employees, customers and the planet. Watson Gloves has built a work culture that values individuality and treating one another as more than just co-workers. Watson Gloves is fueled by a passion to grow and improve but still makes time for fun in the process.
Integrity is undoubtedly one of Watson Gloves’ most important values as it strengthens stakeholder trust amid a market full of false promises. According to Watson Gloves, sharing their sustainability progress and accomplishments has been possible through the use of the Green Business Bureau EcoProfile™. The GBB certification program along with its “clickable” web seal has allowed Watson Gloves to enhance their transparency and better market their green efforts.
Watson Gloves Green Team using their green thumbs at a community garden
Recognizing the need to have a Just Cause, the Watson Gloves Executive Team constructed the mission statement, “Elevating industry for the greater good through sustainability and innovation, protecting people and our planet,” which adorns their company website and can be found throughout every facet of their operations.
Over 100 years of dedicated research and genuine care has transformed Watson Gloves into the thriving company it is today. Yet, Watson Gloves continues to seek any opportunity to do better (They have even launched a food scrap composting and recycling program for employees to exercise their green thinking).
While challenges exist – e.g. sourcing product components that are both sustainable and cost effective, educating suppliers to meet their criteria and objectives – Watson Gloves has found a green solution for industries riddled with unnecessary waste. The diversity of glove styles that Watson Gloves provides invites everyone to make the sustainable choice when seeking hand protection on the job or at home.