Biodegradable Nitrile Gloves | Everything You Wanted to Know

Disposable glove pollution has become more alarming since the pandemic as billions of disposable gloves were used and often left in landfills and oceans.

Eco Gloves has developed nitrile disposable glove technology that can be biodegradable in landfills around the world.

The problem is getting exacerbated annually. However, it is important to note that there are some efforts to recycle. Unfortunately, these current efforts are not enough to offset the growing amount of waste being produced.

In fact, only 6% of the total plastic waste was recycled in 2021. A small number considering that the amount of plastic waste is expected to triple by 2060 if there are no increased efforts to shift towards more sustainable practices. When it comes to sustainable practices, even small eco-friendly changes can make big waves. And this is where compostable gloves come in.

What are Biodegradable Nitrile Gloves?

Kathmandu Metropolitan City plans to generate electricity from  biodegradable waste - OnlineKhabar English News

Biodegradable gloves are made of plant-based polymers that are strong and durable when being used. Then, they break down when disposed of in a landfill. There are agents in the glove that activate means they serve the same purpose as traditional healthcare, cleaning, and food service gloves but without adding to the problem of waste pollution.

Multi-Purpose Disposable Gloves that are Better for the World

People are making the switch to Biodegradable gloves because they care about the environment. The earth's landfills and oceans are being polluted with standard nitrile gloves. Now is the chance for businesses to switch to a better, more sustainable option.

Biodegradable nitrile gloves

The global pandemic has created a large increase in the use of disposable gloves in the personal, private and public sectors, and that the increased consumption has also led to an increased, general awareness of the environmental impact of these products. 

It's only a matter of time that businesses make the switch to biodegradable nitrile gloves. It's an obvious switch especially if the gloves perform similar to the traditional nitrile gloves alternative. 

Disposable gloves are essential to good health, by preventing the spread of germs, and protecting hands against harmful substances. Worldwide demand is increasing every year due to the need and desire to live healthier lives. This leads to more waste in landfills and oceans around the world. 


Industry Statistics for the Nitrile Disposable Glove Market

What is the size of the nitrile disposable gloves market?

The global nitrile disposable gloves market size was valued at USD $3.12 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.1% from 2021 to 2028. (Source: Grand View Research)

What are the most popular type of disposable gloves?

Nitrile gloves are the most popular type of disposable gloves, accounting for more than 50% of the global market share. (Source: Allied Market Research). 

Image credit to Allied Market Research

Where are nitrile disposable gloves manufactured?

Most of the world's nitrile glove production is in Asia. Malaysia is the world's largest producer of nitrile gloves, accounting for approximately 60% of global production. Other major producers include Thailand, China, and the United States. Eco Gloves is able to manufacture nitrile disposable gloves in both Asia and the United States. Contact our disposable gloves manufacturing team for details. (Source: IndustryARC)

Why are nitrile disposable gloves so popular?

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased demand for nitrile gloves as they are widely used in healthcare settings for infection control. The demand for nitrile gloves is expected to remain high in the post-pandemic period due to increased awareness about hygiene and safety. (Source: Fortune Business Insights)

How much do nitrile disposable gloves cost?

The average price of nitrile gloves varies depending on factors such as quality, material, quantity, sustainability, and location. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the price of nitrile gloves surged due to high demand and supply chain disruptions. It has now stabilized. (Source: PR Newswire)

How do Biodegradable Nitrile Gloves Perform?

Biodegradable nitrile gloves pass all of the safety tests that standard nitrile gloves adhere to. There are several tests that are commonly used to evaluate nitrile gloves for quality and performance. Here are a few examples:

Physical properties testing: This includes tests such as tensile strength, puncture resistance, and elongation, which are used to assess the physical durability and strength of the gloves.

Powder content testing (with or without): Nitrile gloves may be powdered with a substance such as cornstarch to make them easier to put on, but excessive powder can cause allergies or respiratory issues. Powder content testing is used to measure the amount of powder on the gloves.

Chemical resistance testing: Nitrile gloves are often used in environments where they may come into contact with chemicals. Chemical resistance testing evaluates how well the gloves hold up to exposure to various chemicals.

Microbial testing: This type of testing looks for bacterial or fungal contamination on the gloves, which could pose a risk to users.

AQL (Acceptable Quality Level) testing: This test measures the percentage of defects in a batch of gloves. AQL testing is used to determine whether a batch of gloves meets quality standards and can be sold.

Biodegradable testing: This test method covers the determination of the degree and rate of anaerobic biodegradation of materials in high-solids anaerobic conditions. Biodegradation could allow for the safe disposal of these materials through aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) solid-waste-treatment plants, most landfills don't have oxygen to prevent smell and release of harmful gases into the environment. This procedure has been developed to determine the rate and degree of biodegradability of materials.

Nitrile Disposable Gloves Testing

Are these Biodegradable Nitrile Gloves Medical Grade?

Yes, depending on the type of glove you purchase, Eco Gloves Biodegradable nitrile gloves are medical grade and have received the FDA 510K certification. Please confirm with your sales representative before purchasing to ensure that the certificate is ready and available.

Medical Grade Biodegradable Disposable Gloves


How are Biodegradable Nitrile Gloves Made?

First, it's important to understand how regular nitrile gloves are made. The process is similar to how most rubber products are manufactured. Nitrile gloves are manufactured through a process called vulcanization. During this high-temperature process, chemicals are introduced to create strong nitrile molecular chains that form the material that we know as nitrile gloves. This highly durable and protective material are great for protecting people, but makes it's waste disposal much more challenging.

Biodegradable Gloves Manufacturing

This is what Eco Gloves revolutionary. Our glove material is able to retain the same strong properties of traditional nitrile gloves, but with the added benefit and technology of also being able to breakdown in landfills.

The technology behind Eco Gloves biodegradable nitrile gloves are a proprietary bio-agent that attracts microbes in both aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) landfill environments.

Most disposable nitrile gloves are made from Butadiene and Acrylonitrile. Nitrile is produced by emulsifying butadiene and acrylonitrile together in water, then polymerizing it. The amount of oil resistance in nitrile rubber depends on the percentage of acrylonitrile. More acrylonitrile makes the rubber more resistant to swelling from oil, stronger, and less permeable to gases. Less makes it more flexible at lower temperatures.

So how does Butadiene and Acrylonitrile break down in the environment?

Butadiene is present as a gaseous state in the environment and can be degraded through chemically induced hydroxyl free radicals, or nitro free radicals into the ozone. It's also able to be broken down into soil and volatilized by the atmosphere.

Acrylonitrile is used by microorganisms during the breakdown process by being converted to acrylamide by nitrile hydrase, and then converted yo acrylic acid by amidase. Acrylic acid is produced under nitrile hydrolase, and lastly absorbed and metabolized into CO2 and water my microorganisms.

Nitrile Gloves Materials Life Cycle

Image Credit to Design Life Cycle


How are Traditional Nitrile Gloves Hurting our Environment?

First, large amounts of greenhouse gasses are created during production. Second, the materials used are not sustainable. Third, it creates a large landfill buildup.

Image from ABC News

How can you prove these Biodegradable Disposable Gloves actually Break Down?

Eco Gloves passes the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM D5511) standard and also the ITS test. This is the standard test method for determining anaerobic biodegradation of materials under high-solids anaerobic-digestion conditions. This test provides a numerical result.

Biodegradable Soil Testing for Disposable Gloves

How long does it take Biodegradable Disposable Gloves to Break Down?

In 45 days, you can expect a biodegradation rate of ≥5%
In 90 days, you can expect a biodegradation rate of ≥10%
In 135 days, you can expect a biodegradation rate of ≥15%
In 3-5 years, you can expect the gloves to be completely broken down.

Biodegradation Test Situ Biosciences

Image credit to Situ Biosciences that does ASTM Biodegradation Testing

What's the science & technology behind Biodegradable Disposable Gloves?

Eco Gloves works with the top researchers & manufacturing facilities around the world to bring you the latest cutting edge technology and advancements in biodegradable glove technology. That's why we are transparent and will break down (pun intended) here, the science of it. 

In short, Eco Gloves biodegradable nitrile gloves are manufactured with a special enzyme that allows these gloves to attract microbes that will decompose it in landfills. This is considered an end of life solution. These enzymes are proprietary to Eco Gloves and our research & development manufacturing partners.

With the help of these special enzymes, Eco Gloves biodegradable nitrile gloves becomes a food source for microbes and that's how it is able to be broken down.

Are you just "Greenwashing" with Biodegradable Disposable Gloves?

Eco Gloves is an innovator in biodegradable disposable gloves, and confirms all biodegradability claims with 3rd party independent laboratory test data. We are also connecting with the top research facilities around the world to help advance technology in this field.

Our competitors, have even approached Eco Gloves to learn more about our technology and processes. We take a collaborative approach to other manufacturers and are forming collectives to help bring forth this research.

The two largest governing bodies for certifying sustainability is ASTM and EN.

Research to read:

  • "Advanced Biopolymer Materials: Preparation, Characterization and Applications" . Biopolymers have gained attention from researchers worldwide due to their eco-friendly nature as an alternative to fossil-fuel-based polymers. As a result, technology has enabled new exploration of their potential. Biopolymers have advanced bio-based materials that have found uses in various sectors such as biomedical, commercial, food, and engineering. This has led to the development of a Special Issue focused on materials based on biopolymers, specifically proteins and polysaccharides.

    However, despite their advantages, biopolymer materials, especially polysaccharides and proteins, are less robust than traditional plastic packaging and have poor barriers to water vapor and oxygen. To address this, researchers have begun combining different biopolymers and adding various ingredients such as nanofillers to the structure. The Special Issue covers several domains such as protein-based materials, polysaccharide-based materials, nanocomposite biopolymer-based materials, active and intelligent packaging based on biopolymers, applications of biopolymer-based materials, and the synthesis and characterization of biopolymer-based materials.
  • Overview on the Potential of Biodegradable Natural Rubber Latex Gloves for Commercialization - The article discusses the issue of rubber waste generated by medical gloves, which accounts for 24% of total medical solid waste. According to the Global Development Research Center, 57-80% of rubber waste is disposed of in landfills, while other methods include open burning, incineration, sanitary landfill, open dumping, recycling, and others. However, burning or incinerating rubber waste can produce hazardous gases such as carbon dioxide and is not cost-effective. Additionally, discarded gloves takes years to degrade naturally due to compounding ingredients such as sulfur and antioxidants preventing degradation by microorganisms. In this 2014 study, Novel Green Additives: has been shown to accelerate the biodegradation process.biodegradable gloves with this additive were decomposed in soil for four weeks and their mechanical properties were assessed. The results showed that the mechanical properties of the gloves decreased as the biodegradation week elapsed, indicating increased biodegradability. It also has been proven to accelerate the biodegradation process of latex films using existing production lines with minimal additional cost.
  • Biodegradable Gloves for Waste Management Post-COVID-19 Outbreak: A Shelf-Life Prediction - The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the use of gloves, and this is expected to continue even after the pandemic. However, this increased usage has led to a problem of rubber solid waste disposal, which may be addressed through the production of biodegradable gloves. Nonetheless, it is important to study the shelf life of biodegradable gloves before they are commercialized.

    The American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM) D7160 outlines well-established models to address the failure properties of gloves. In this study, the researchers subjected polysaccharide-based material-filled natural rubber latex (PFNRL) gloves, which are biodegradable gloves, to an accelerated aging process at different temperatures ranging from 50-80 °C for 1-120 days.

    What is a polysaccharide? It's a carbohydrate whose molecules consist of a number of sugar molecules bonded together. Why does nitrile rubber last so long in landfills? Well, it's a relatively new material that is synthetic, and micro organisms have not had enough time to learn how to effectively break it down.

    The study utilized prediction models based on Arrhenius and shift factors to estimate the shelf life of the PFNRL gloves. Based on the results obtained, the estimated time for the PFNRL gloves to retain 75% of their tensile strength at shelf temperature (30 °C) based on Arrhenius and shift factor models was 2.8 years.

    Verification on the activation energy based on the shift factor model indicated that the shelf life of PFNRL gloves is 2.9 years, which is only a 3.6% difference. The value obtained is aligned with the requirement in accordance with ASTM D7160, which states that only up to a maximum of 3 years' shelf life is allowed for the gloves under accelerated aging conditions.

    This study provides valuable insights into the shelf life of biodegradable gloves, which is crucial information for their commercialization. It also highlights the importance of producing sustainable products to address the problem of rubber solid waste disposal.
  • Development of biodegradable natural rubber latex composites by employing corn derivative bio-fillers - This study aims to investigate the viability of employing corn-based fillers (powdered corn grain [CG], corn flour [CF] and cornstarch [CS]) to improve the biodegradability of natural rubber latex (NRL) composites by varying filler loading from 0 to 50 phr. Notable variation in both physical and mechanical properties were observed for the different filler types, with CG-filled NRL demonstrating the better adhesion with NRL. Thus, CG-filled composites were selected for investigation of biodegradability. Increased CG loading in NRL compounds enhanced biodegradation; with over 70% degradation observed for 50 phr CG loading upon 15 weeks of soil burial. However, the trade-off between mechanical properties and biodegradability limits the CG loading in the NRL matrix to 20 phr for manufacturing NRL-based products. It was observed that NRL with CG filler loading of 20 phr conforms to the ASTM D3578 standard for manufacturing rubber gloves; with 50% biodegradation upon 15 weeks of soil burial.  
  • Waste Natural Polymers as Potential Fillers for Biodegradable Latex-Based Composites: A Review - Municipal solid waste consists of everyday items such as bottles, food scraps, paints, food wrappers, packaging and newspapers are used and thrown away every day. Some of these materials are biodegradable, while others are not. Because non-biodegradable items do not decompose over time, they are frequently thrown in landfills or incinerated, creating a serious environmental concern. This is one of the most important concerns affecting society today, as the concentration of non-biodegradable plastics continue to rise at an alarming rate. In recent years, biodegradable composites have become important in various fields because of the increasing awareness of the global environment. Waste natural polymers have received much attention as renewable, biodegradable, non-toxic and low-cost filler in polymer composites. In order to exploit the high potential for residual natural loading in latex composites, different types of surface modification techniques have been applied. This review discusses the preparation and characterization of the modified waste natural fillers for latex-based composites. The potency of the waste natural filler for the latex-based composites was explored with a focus on the mechanical, thermal, biodegradability and filler–latex interaction. This review also offers an update on the possible application of the waste natural filler towards the biodegradability of the latex-based composites for a more sustainable future.

Can Biodegradable Nitrile Gloves Be Throw in the Trash?

Yes, these gloves can be throw in the trash, and will break down in a standard landfill. The landfill biodegradable materials are a true biodegradable approach that utilizes organic additives to accelerate the rate at which materials such as Eco Gloves biodegrade. This process allows naturally occurring bacteria to consume the materials in a landfill environment leading to the production of biogas and humus, a natural fertilizer.

Biodegradable Gloves in Regular Trash Can or Landfill

What's the difference between Traditional Nitrile Gloves and Eco Gloves Biodegradable Nitrile Gloves?

Our one-of-a-kind biodegradable disposable gloves contain a special bio-agent that allows it to break down in landfills. This bio-agent attracts microbes in a landfill that attaches to the surface of the gloves. After a certain period of time, the microbes will break down and metabolize the gloves into carbon dioxide and water.

After 90 days, traditional nitriles gloves were 99% present in landfills, compared to Eco Gloves that were only 13% present at the time.

Comparing Biodegradable Nitrile Gloves to Regular Nitrile Gloves

When can you use biodegradable gloves?

Biodegradable gloves that adhere to the International Safety Organization (ISO) and are certified to be used in the following settings:

For General PPE Gloves

Biodegradable gloves can be used as a general personal protective equipment, or PPE. This includes everyday tasks and chores such as cleaning, or interacting with the general public. PPE was also popular amongst people just doing grocery shopping. These gloves help lessen your exposure to dirt or even germs that can be easily transmitted through touch. You can also use compostable gloves when taking care of the sick. Along with other general PPE like face masks or face shields, you can take care of others while minimizing the risk of getting sick yourself.

PPE Disposable Gloves

For Food Preparation Gloves

Biodegradable disposable gloves are a great option for food prep businesses ranging from ingredient preparation and chopping, to packaging and handling. You can ensure that the food you serve is prepped and cooked with safety in mind. Your guests will also appreciate knowing that their food was properly handled and be more likely to return. Health grades play a major part in whether or not a customer would return to a restaurant.

Food Prep Disposable Gloves

Additionally, you literally don’t need to get your hands dirty. Have you tried making something fermented or handling food with strong odors? The smell may need a lot of scrubbing—and, of course, water—to wash off. Using biodegradable gloves can save your skin, water, and the environment all in one go. Eco Gloves also sells compostable disposable gloves that are a lower cost, and looser fit alternative to biodegradable nitrile gloves. 

For Food Service Gloves

The food service industry has been identified as a major source of single-use plastic waste. Thanks to recent advancements, there are many eco-friendly practices for businesses in this industry. In a recent study by Chipotle, they found that disposable gloves had a greater environmental impact than disposable straws. Businesses are now making a conscious effort to adopt these practices. Consumers are getting smarter and expect more from the brands that they choose. You can switch from single-use gloves to either biodegradable or compostable ones for food service. Applications will range from the front of the house counter to the back of the house prep stations. Small steps taken by the majority of businesses can make a big difference and set a precedent that businesses can be both profitable and environmentally friendly. Your guests will also see the different in how you're handling going green and being eco-friendly.

Food Service Disposable Gloves

For the Hospitality and Service Sector

Businesses like gas or fueling stations can help meet minimum safety standards by providing reliable and eco-friendly gloves by the pump. Hotels and even restaurants can install glove dispensers near their entrances. Doing so provides their guests the option to use compostable gloves for their own safety and peace of mind.

PPE Disposable Gloves Delivery

For Cleaning & Industrial Gloves

Whether you’re scrubbing your tiles clean, washing dishes, or taking out the trash, compostable gloves can protect your hands. Compostable gloves are comfortable and versatile. And if you have sensitive skin, you won’t have to worry about getting the allergic reactions that you would normally get from latex gloves.

Cleaning and Sanitizing Disposable Gloves

Why Switch to Biodegradable Nitrile Gloves?

To Reduce our Carbon Footprint

Billions of disposable gloves are used every year and end up in landfills that are not being broken down. Eco Gloves can help our planet.

To Improve Health and Safety

Switching to biodegradable gloves for your personal use allows you and your family to stay healthy and safe without the risk of allergic reactions to the skin. Biodegradable gloves are as durable as any commercial gloves on the market, so you’re not giving up quality or safety when you make the switch.

Businesses, especially those in the food service industry, are recommended by the FDA to wear gloves when serving customers. Single-use gloves protect both the employees and the customers by minimizing the spread of easily transmissible diseases. There may be businesses who are on the fence about going biodegradable, citing issues like sacrificing quality or overshooting expenses. But biodegradable gloves can help businesses meet the health and safety standards set by ruling bodies and even help their bottom line in the long run.

To Go Eco-friendly

Both individuals and businesses can make an effort to help the planet. Adopting eco-friendly practices does not only affect your household or your business. It adds to the global sustainability efforts. After all, we all live on this one planet, so it’s up to everyone to take the steps, even small ones, to help save it.

To Advocate for Sustainability

More and more consumers are being more discerning when it comes to the products they buy. It’s not just about low prices anymore. Consumers expect more from the companies that want their loyalty (and money). Companies with clear, genuine advocacies, including sustainability, are more likely to get support from conscious consumers. Switching to biodegradable gloves is a simple and visible way to demonstrate that you’re not just a company that talks about eco-friendly practices but applies them as well.

Where Can You Buy Bulk Biodegradable Nitrile Gloves? When selecting where to buy biodegradable gloves, make sure that you choose those that meet the above-mentioned qualifications, like Eco Gloves.For personal use, you can conveniently purchase directly from our disposable gloves website. For bulk business use, you can send your inquiries here.

Choosing to switch to biodegradable gloves is a step towards the right direction. Reducing waste, decreasing your carbon footprint, and supporting sustainability efforts are some of the top reasons why you should adopt the use of biodegradable gloves.

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