How Long Does It Take for Nitrile Gloves to Decompose?

Professionals in the healthcare and food industries make use of nitrile gloves on a daily basis. Because of its sturdy but disposable nature, nitrile is especially popular in environments where cross contamination is a danger.

Because of the chemical composition and raw materials used in the manufacturing of nitrile gloves, they are robust enough to provide effective protection against most mild chemicals and contagious infections. 

Nitrile gloves do decompose, although it takes decades for them to break down. They have a detrimental impact on the environment, right from their manufacturing process to the time of their disposal. 

How Long Does It Take for Nitrile Gloves to Decompose

No matter the benefits nitrile gloves provide, it does impact our environment negatively. Because we do need safety at the workplace, but it is also equally important to think about nature and our environment too.

Therefore, here in this article, we talk about the harmful effects of nitrile on nature and what other alternative you can go for. 

So let us have a look at the disadvantages disposable nitrile gloves have on the environment-

1.) Mass littering 

Disposable nitrile gloves do not just cause littering. Even if properly disposed of, it might take up to 100 years for these gloves to break down.

Recently, we have come across news that brings out the havoc caused by the huge amount of gloves used inappropriately during the Covid 19 pandemic.

According to the World Health Organization, “The use of gloves when not indicated represents a waste of resources and does not contribute to a reduction of cross-transmission.”

This means, gloves not only pollute the environment, but they also cannot protect individuals from contamination over time and that is why they are disposable in nature.

2.) Degradation of environment

Another concern is the production of these disposable nitrile gloves. Toxic compounds like acrylonitrile and butadiene are used to make nitrile gloves.

And they are both released in the air. Acrylonitrile is also released into the water and results in contamination of our water bodies. 

3.) Health concerns

Acrylonitrile, an organic chemical that contributes significantly to nitrile gloves’ artificial resistance to fluids such as blood and grease, is one component of the synthetic substance used in nitrile gloves.

Acrylonitrile is a toxic chemical that is a colourless liquid with a distinct smell. Although contact with pure acrylonitrile has been known to cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines it as a possible human carcinogen that is connected to lung and prostate cancer.

Butadiene is the other organic ingredient required to make nitrile rubber, and it is used to keep nitrile gloves pliable and rip resistant.

It is an odorless, colorless, and toxic gas in its pure form. Butadiene gas may cause eye and throat discomfort in humans, and it is also a major air contaminant since one of the most prominent sources of butadiene is motor vehicle exhaust. Butadiene, just like acrylonitrile, has been classified as a human carcinogen.

Now, since we know what are the adverse effects of nitrile gloves on the environment, why don’t we talk about it’s greener alternatives.

Yes, with the advancement in science and technology, there are now disposable gloves available that are less detrimental to the environment and your health. 

Let us talk about biodegradable nitrile gloves. 

1.) Biodegradable gloves or Eco Gloves are created from all-natural plant materials such as corn, cassava, tapioca roots, sugarcane, or sugar beet pulp. These vegetable-based polymers will be used in place of today’s petroleum-based plastics and other synthetic materials. 

These biopolymers have the advantages of being non-toxic, eco-friendly, recyclable, compostable, biodegradable, and more easily processed. 

2.) The advancement in manufacturing allows for a reduced production time and a high molecular weight end product that is environment friendly as well as durable. Biodegradable glove alternatives are an excellent match even in high-performance and demanding areas like healthcare. 

3.) These eco gloves assist to minimise carbon footprint by almost 68% when compared to standard plastics by utilising renewable plant-based materials that are biodegradable and compostable, causing less and less harm to nature.

4.) The advancement in biopolymer technology allows these gloves to degrade more quickly in a compostable environment. It also offers exceptional strength, flexibility, durability, and is puncture resistant, so they will not rip, tear, or leak easily. 

5.) They’re suitable for medical and the food industry too as they’re latex free, non-powdered and BPA free making it suitable for sensitive skin. 

See also: Which Gloves Are Better, Nitrile or Vinyl?

What makes these eco-friendly gloves decompose faster? 

Since we have mentioned the advancement in technology, this advancement has helped create an eco-friendly alternative that is added during the manufacturing process of biodegradable gloves.

And it is this eco-friendly technology that attracts microbial activity when these gloves are disposed of in landfills. These gloves are consumed, metabolised, and broken down by microorganisms into three natural compounds, namely, organic soil, methane, and carbon dioxide, which isn’t harmful to the environment. 

The eco-friendly additives, which accelerate the rate of decay or disintegration in the presence of oxygen and light, are the key. Moisture helps fasten the disintegration process as well. 

Eco gloves are also very simple to recycle. They are non-toxic since they contain no chemicals or poisons. The regenerated bio-waste can be composted or utilised to generate sustainable energy for biogas.

How are biodegradable, eco-friendly gloves important for the environment?

First, think of the number of gloves used in hospitals, food industries, our own homes and gardens on a daily basis. The number is unthinkable. And if these gloves are non-biodegradable, then it is all the more an issue.

But if these disposable gloves are biodegradable and eco-friendly, then it won’t matter how much is produced and used in a single day. Biodegradable gloves degrade in a matter of months, reducing the millions of tonnes of waste generated each year.

Recommended biodegradable, eco-friendly gloves for you

1.) Showa Biodegradable Disposable Nitrile Gloves

These disposable nitrile gloves are 100% biodegradable, which also provides comfort, dexterity, and chemical protection.

Check it out here-

2.) Eco Gloves 

These eco-friendly gloves are biodegradable and made of plant based materials. But it doesn’t compromise on safety as it is ASTM compliant which makes it strong, durable and safe to use in medical and food industries. 

Check it out here-

3.) SellSage Eco-Friendly Disposable Gloves

These eco-friendly gloves by Sellsage are resistant to tearing and leakage. It also provides good grip and is free of latex and allergens which makes it suitable for sensitive skin types. 

Check it out here-

To conclude, knowing the harmful effects of nitrile gloves on our environment, we really have to take a stand and reduce its usage.

When we know that gloves are required for many important jobs on a daily basis, why not go for an eco-friendly alternative that not only gets the job done but is also not harmful to the environment. 

Nitrile gloves are indeed useful and come with a whole lot of benefits, but it has detrimental effects on nature, and therefore, it is always wise to use products that are environmentally friendly. 

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

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