A Glove's Biodegradation Process in Anerobic Landfill

Biodegradable Nitrile Glove Briefing

Do you know what happens with your single-use gloves after you have worn and disposed it? Maybe you don’t care, but here’s the deal folks, every year 100 billion disposable gloves are thrown away where it takes centuries to fully decompose. This means the very first nitrile gloves ever produced (including those worn by you) are still buried and intact in landfill.

If you're guilty about the disposable gloves you’ve trashed, you're not alone. To tackle the growing volume of waste, Eco-conscious glove suppliers are investing heavily into Research & Development (R&D) for sustainable hand protection product with limited environmental impact.

A green nitrile glove digging fingers into soil

What is Biodegradability?

Biodegradable is defined as the ability of things to get disintegrated (decomposed) by the action of micro-organisms, such as bacteria or fungi, in a way that is not harmful to the environment.

When you hear that a glove is biodegradable, it is important to consider whether the glove will achieve a high level of degradability under controlled conditions. How fast will the glove degrade? Under which conditions? Will biodegradability affect the glove’s shelf life or efficiency?

Changing the Future of Single-Use Gloves

Changing the future of single-use gloves, the inventor of the world's first nitrile gloves, SHOWA®, first launched biodegradable nitrile gloves back in 2012 in response to the overwhelming amount of plastic waste and the growing climate crisis.

Growing in popularity, single-use latex-free biodegradable gloves are made with the same rigid quality controls and manufacturing standards as conventional nitrile gloves, but feature proprietary additives that allow them to quickly breakdown in landfills. This means the overall performance, protection, and durability of the glove stays exactly the same with reduced impact on the environment.

Same Glove, Better For The Planet

Special additives to nitrile rubber formulations are intended to disrupt the current waste cycle of conventional gloves. These specially treated gloves break down, or biodegrade, in natural elements, such as landfill, at accelerated rates with zero waste and no toxic residues, and they will not contaminate ground water.

To understand how well a biodegradable nitrile glove performs, it is important to know how nitrile biodegradability is tested and measured. It is also important to understand these testing methods to understand competitive claims or “product advantages."

ASTM Testing Methods for Biodegradable Claims

To ensure consumers they’re buying sustainable hand protection with verified product claims, there are two accepted and respected methods for testing biodegradability: ASTM D5511 and ASTM D5526 test certifications. These certifications were established to determine the anaerobic biodegradation (the degradation of compounds by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen) of plastics in accelerated landfill conditions. The major difference between the two ASTM International test methods revolves around the length of time and accuracy.

Validating Sustainability

Biodegradation should be validated by third-party testing. Biodegradable technologies, such as Eco Best Technology® (EBT) and EcoTek®, are third-party validated by GreenCircle®.

GreenCircle® is an internationally recognized third-party certification entity whose thorough evaluation process provides independent verification that sustainability claims related to an organization’s products and operations are honest, valid, and verified.

It was developed after encountering many false and unsubstantiated biodegradability claims in the marketplace to ensure consumers that they’re buying legitimate sustainable products with verified product claims.

The Biodegradation Process

So how does biodegradation work? It first starts in the production process where additives to the nitrile glove formulation act as a “food source” to attract microorganisms found within the landfill.

When biodegradable gloves are disposed in biologically active landfills, microbes consume, metabolize, and break down (or depolymerize) the nitrile materials into three non-toxic, natural compounds – organic soil, methane, and carbon dioxide to create healthy soil, leaving zero waste behind with no toxic residues.

  1. Proprietary materials are added to the nitrile during production
  2. Glove are used and then disposed
  3. Gloves are transferred and discarded into biologically active landfills
  4. Micro-organisms break down the gloves
  5. Organic soil and biogas are left in its place

Biodegradable technologies are making a difference to the environment without compromising protection or performance. Thanks to special compositions, sustainable nitrile gloves will decompose within 1 to 5 years in active landfills, where conventional nitrile gloves take 200+ years.

Consider the number of disposable gloves consumed every day in our hospitals, offices, restaurants, schools, warehouses, labs, and service industries. The numbers are astronomical. With biodegradable gloves, the environmental impact is the only difference. Simply throw these gloves away and let the landfills do the rest!

As your sustainable partner, MDS offers the most extensive selection of validated biodegradable hand protection on the market!

We Can’t Change Earth’s Past But We Can Its Future, and It Starts With You! Divert Landfill, Stop Plastic Pollution and Go Sustainable Today!

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