Sustainability and disposable gloves

National News Categories: 
Publish date: 
11 Jun 2018
Author: 
Eileen Procter
Image of disposable gloves, photograph by Julien Harneis

Lately I’ve been thinking about sustainability in Conservation—what can I do to reduce our environmental footprint? One of the biggest non-recyclable products used in conservation are gloves; nitrile, vinyl, latex. That is, until recently. In Australia, we now have two options: TerraCycle and Green-Dex gloves.

TerraCycle is a company that will collect your used disposable nitrile, latex and vinyl gloves and recycle them into something else. You can buy a small or medium box from Australia Post, Waster.com.au, Biome, King Bins or Flora and Fauna. When the box is full, you send it to TerraCycle for sorting, extrusion and pelletisation to be made into new products. Return postage is included in the price of the box. https://www.terracycle.com.au/en-AU/zero_waste_boxes/plastic-gloves

Green-Dex gloves are manufactured by Showa – a Japanese company that has been making protective gloves since the 1950’s. Best Manufacturing (now part of the Showa Company) were responsible for the creation of the first 100% nitrile latex-free glove. In 2012, they invented the first biodegradable disposable nitrile glove. These gloves are reputed to perform exactly like any other regular nitrile product of similar size and weight with respect to chemical permeation, tear and abrasion levels. In short, the gloves have identical properties to the disposable nitrile gloves used in conservation. For the last 2.5 years, Showa have been using the bioburden test to measure the contamination of organisms over time as the gloves sit on the shelf. They have found no deviation from the behavior displayed by regular nitrile gloves. Having only discovered the existence of these gloves yesterday (16/5/2018), I haven’t had a chance to test them out but they make a good first impression.  https://www.showagloves.com/assets/files/GREEN-DEX-Brochure-Oct-13.pdf