Can You Recycle Nitrile Gloves? (Don’t Make These Mistakes)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

Nitrile gloves have many advantages such as strength and having high-quality protection features. This is why these gloves are gaining such popularity within the food, medical, and cleaning industries

However, if you are wondering whether or not nitrile gloves belong in the trash or if they can be recycled, you are in the right place. Here is what I found!

Can You Recycle Nitrile Gloves?

If nitrile gloves haven’t been used with hazardous waste, they can be recycled at the parent manufacturer. Furthermore, Nitrile gloves that haven’t been used with hazardous materials can be collected and sent back where the gloves are sterilized and turned into other objects like frisbees and furniture. 

Read on to learn more about how to recycle nitrile gloves and the impacts they are having on the environment!

How To Recycle Nitrile Gloves?

Unfortunately, nitrile gloves can’t just be recycled in regular household recycling bins. 

Therefore, the best way to recycle nitrile gloves is to collect them and turn them back in with a recycling program through a nitrile reclamation program. 

Once you’ve joined one of these programs (many are offered through nitrile glove vendors), you can collect used gloves in a box and when the box is full, simply have it collected to be recycled.

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Furthermore, one of the most popular nitrile glove reclamation programs is Terracycle

This manufacturer offers zero-waste boxes (yay!) to store used nitrile gloves for reclamation. 

Terracycle’s zero waste recycling boxes can be used to collect the following glove types: 

  • Nitrile vinyl gloves
  • Latex gloves
  • Plastic gloves

Keep in mind, though, that only gloves which haven’t touched biohazardous materials can be sent back for reclamation.

Additionally, these recycling boxes allow laboratories and other businesses to use large amounts of disposable gloves without having a severe environmental impact. 

Are Nitrile Gloves Biodegradable? 

Unlike some single-use gloves, nitrile gloves are fully biodegradable. 

However, it can take decades for these gloves to break down unless you buy a type of nitrile glove that is designed to biodegrade quickly. 

Interestingly, two brands that are trying to accelerate the biodegradability of nitrile gloves are Showa and Globus

Furthermore, these companies are setting the standard for protecting not only their customers but also the environment.

Now that you know nitrile gloves are biodegradable, you might be wondering what material are they made from? Continue reading to find out the answer!

What Materials Are Nitrile Gloves Made Of? 

What Materials Are Nitrile Gloves Made Of? 

Nitrile is a latex alternative (or synthetic rubber) that has been popularized in laboratory settings since the 1990s due to its strength against punctures and tears. 

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This makes nitrile a suitable material for handling hazards where bio-security is an important consideration. 

Additionally, “Nitrile”, is usually a reference to any synthetic rubber formed from acrylonitrile and butadiene, an organic compound. 

Is Nitrile Bad For The Environment? 

Latex gloves are typically considered better for the environment than nitrile gloves since latex is farmed from trees, a renewable resource. 

In contrast, nitrile is created from vinyl plastic that can be damaging to the environment in its manufacturing process. 

However, nitrile glove manufacturers have taken steps to make nitrile gloves better for the environment, such as the following

  • Manufacturing energy farmed from renewable resources such as wind and solar
  • State-of-the-art green equipment designed to consume fewer fossil fuels
  • Minimizing environmentally harmful chemicals used during the manufacturing process  

So, even though nitrile isn’t the most environmentally friendly material for single-use gloves, glove manufacturers are doing everything in their power to make them as green as possible. 

Earlier in this article, it was mentioned that nitrile gloves have many advantages, keep on reading to find out more!

Advantages Of Nitrile Gloves

Along with the fact that they are used in several zero-waste recycling programs, nitrile gloves offer other benefits to workplaces that adopt them. 

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Here are some of the advantages of nitrile gloves compared to other types: 

  • High puncture resistance, 3 to 5 times higher than latex
  • Lower allergic reaction rates compared to latex gloves
  • Powderless
  • Higher chemical resistance 
  • Form-fitting and dexterity
  • Built-in zero-waste recycling programs with many nitrile glove vendors

Even though nitrile gloves may be more difficult to keep environmentally friendly than some other materials, the benefits they offer users are worth the effort to recycle them properly.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle latex gloves, whether you can recycle paper straws, and whether you can recycle postcards.

Conclusion

While nitrile gloves don’t enjoy the best reputation in recycling, that reputation is swiftly changing as scientists are trying to make the production of these items as green as possible. 

Furthermore, every year glove manufacturers are learning more ways to make synthetic gloves more biodegradable by learning how to reuse materials that are difficult to break down in other products to help make this product greener!

Author

  • Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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