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Guide to Biodegradable Gloves

The Ultimate Guide to Biodegradable Gloves

Will the gloves that you use and dispose of decompose within your lifetime, or will they outlive you in a landfill?

It is estimated that around 300 billion gloves are disposed of in the United States alone. And of that 300 billion, only a small percentage of them are biodegradable. The longer these materials are on earth, the more likely it is for these non-biodegradables to clog our landfills, pollute our oceanic ecosystems, be consumed by wildlife, and contribute to rising temperatures on the planet. The annual demand for plastic has doubled since the early 2000s, and with such a slow composting rate these products will only continue to add to our crisis.

In industries ranging from retail to sanitation, gloves get used a lot. Gloves keep hands safe, and they allow wearers to do better work. When the job is done, the gloves come off—but where do they go?

Here at Black Box Safety we offer the latest advancements of exam, industrial, food service and surgical grade gloves. As you might have guessed from our name, safety is our number one priority. That priority starts with providing high-quality protective products to working professionals, but it doesn’t stop there. It also includes protecting our planet. That’s why we’re proud to carry a diverse selection of eco-friendly solutions, like the SW Safety biodegradable disposable gloves you’ll find here.

Browse our inventory for biodegradable nitrile gloves and latex gloves in a number of colors, sizes, and lengths. Both protective and biodegradable, SW Safety is one of our choice vendors for eco-friendly employers looking to make a difference with their product purchases.

Why Biodegradation Matters

Biodegradation is the process where a carbon-based material goes through a change from large molecules into simpler substances such as carbon dioxide, water, or ammonia before returning back to the environment. Biodegradation is Nature’s waste control system, and It breaks down everything from yard waste to crude oil into nutrients that can be utilized by other organisms.

Biodegradation matters for a number of reasons. Benefits of biodegradable products are that they can break down much faster and easier than others. There is also a significant decrease in carbon emissions during both the manufacturing and composting process of the products. And due to the fact that they are made up of sustainable materials, they tend to break down into carbon dioxide, water vapor and organic materials which cause little to no harm to our environment.

Unlike biodegradable wastes, non-biodegradable products cannot easily decompose and often generate long lasting effects on our earth. Non-biodegradable materials, such as plastics, have become essential factors for products and packaging because they’re durable and cheap to produce. However, plastic wastes do not break down quickly and tend to take thousands of years to fully decompose. Because of our world’s growing production and consumption of plastic, non-biodegradable products are clogging our landfills, threatening our marine life, and contributing to a massive buildup of gas emissions which lead to increasing temperatures on the planet, commonly referred to as climate change.

Biodegradable Gloves and the Environment

Are latex gloves biodegradable?

Latex disposable gloves are popular for both industrial and medical use due to their plethora of benefits and features. When allergies are not a concern for the user, latex gloves offer many advantages over nitrile gloves such as; tactile sensitivity, cost efficiency, and durability for any situation.

A common question for eco-conscious users is “are latex gloves biodegradable?” The short answer? Yes. Latex is not human made. The material itself derives from tapping the natural rubber from Hevea Brasiliensis trees. The rubber and materials pulled from the tree produce ingredients which are able to compost and break down after a period of time. Although latex gloves are not made solely with rubber materials they are still, for the most part, biodegradable. Our wide variety of latex gloves makes it easy to locate a glove suitable for any need or task requirement. Their cost efficiency and biodegradability also help ease the minds of those concerned about the environment while trying to stay on a budget.

Are nitrile gloves biodegradable?

Since their arrival to the market in the mid 90’s, Nitrile gloves have become an ideal option for consumers because they are made from Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (synthetic rubber) where latex allergies are not of concern. Benefits of a nitrile glove include:

  • longer shelf life
  • 3 times more puncture and chemical resistance that that of a latex glove
  • minimal cross contamination
  • a lower resistance to friction when the gloves are worn

The down side? Nitrile gloves are not biodegradable. With the rapid growth of the human population and a high demand for biodegradable nitrile gloves, our world’s landfills are overflowing. And the pace at which these gloves decompose is far slower than the rate that they are being disposed of.

TrueForm Gloves

Fortunately, brands such as SW Safety have joined the green initiative and created a sustainable, eco-smart solution, such as the TrueForm Royal Blue Powder-Free Nitrile Exam Glove.

Non-biodegradable nitrile gloves do not have the ability to attract microbial activity in order to begin the process of decomposition. In most cases, the lack of organisms to deteriorate the material leaves the gloves to degrade from other sources such as heat, moisture, and light. The amount of time it takes for these to decay is what leads to harmful carbon emissions and pollution of our air, water and land.

SW Safety's proprietary nitrile treatment dramatically accelerates landfill breakdown. Their biodegradable gloves break down 92.6% over 2.5 years (as tested according to ASTM D5526-12) without any impact on glove performance. 

Glove grades & standards

Biodegradable gloves like SW Safety's TrueForm are made for users who rely upon daily hand protection to provide ease of use and high dexterity.

With TrueForm, quality is designed into every single style using exacting manufacturing processes for tip-to-cuff consistency, glove after glove.

Standards include:

  • EN 420:2003
  • EN 455:2000-2015
  • ASTM D6319-10
  • EU 2016/425
  • FDA 21 CFR 177.2600

and are ideal for lab, life science, and industrial environments.

Glove thickness

Thickness for disposable gloves often differs between size, grade, type and intended use. Physical Dimensions of the TrueForm, for example, are:

  • Length: ≥ 242mm
  • Palm: 0.08mm
  • Finger: 0.12mm

More on Biodegradable Gloves


The introduction of biodegradable technology is the first step in the green initiative and advancement towards an eco-friendly future. Don't let the gloves you wear today outlive you. Check out our website to keep your lab up to date with the latest biodegradable safety technology.
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