Are Disposable Gloves Recyclable?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: December 10, 2021
  • Time to read: 4 min.

If your gloves are disposable, it means that they are supposed to be used only once and that’s it. 

Now, back to the question of whether disposable gloves are recyclable or not. The straight answer is NO. 

However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to recycle gloves. 

The thing is: disposable gloves are made for certain people. 

Is it Possible to Recycle Disposable Gloves?

Yes, you can recycle gloves, but I have never seen anyone doing it. 

Whether they’re one-time use or not, you’re not sure you’d want to increase the risk of infection while recycling gloves; you don’t know what disease might be in them! 

Disposable gloves are synonymous with medical practitioners who interact with infectious things almost every other day. 

Since they don’t want to get infected with bugs, they usually don’t intend to recycle or even reuse gloves. 

Therefore, it’s possible to recycle disposable gloves, but it’s not recommended. 

Are Disposable Gloves Bad for the Environment?

Truth be told, disposables such as gloves and masks are saving lives but ruining the environment. 

While carbon emissions and climate change are at the center of environmental pollution, this is another good moment to look at a major problem that is gloves. 

As you already know, the world became hyper-hygienic soon after the COVID-19 pandemic came knocking a year ago. 

Gloves currently play an oversized role. 

The single-use nature of disposable gloves is piling up in our oceans and landfills. 

That’s why gloves pollution is particularly a concern. “It’s not just about the fact that plastics are not biodegradable but about the fact that gloves strewn in oceans are a hazard for wildlife. Animals sometimes get entangled in the straps,” Maria Algarra said in a recent interview with PBS News.

Are Disposable Gloves Clinical Waste?

Clinical waste is any used medical gear that can expose humans to the risk of infections. 

Gloves form part of the protective gear every doctor or medical practitioner must wear when interacting with patients. 

They protect doctors from exposure to bugs that could endanger them. 

The clinical staff is advised to wear a pair of disposable gloves, not more than once, and they must always change gloves between patients and treatment areas. 

Gloves are considered clinical waste after they have been used in a medical setting or after they have come into contact with infectious substances. 

That’s why clinical staff discard single-use gloves as clinical waste.

How Do You Dispose Of Disposable Gloves? (Step by Step)

Once a pair or set of disposable gloves has been classified as clinical waste, they must be discarded correctly to reduce the chances of coming into contact with infections (assuming you’re using the gloves in a medical setting). 

Here’s how to dispose of used gloves:

  1. Deglove

Using the proper degloving technique is especially crucial in times of disease outbreaks but also important when working in a hospital setting. The first thing to remember is that the outside of the gloves is considered contaminated. That’s why you want to be very careful when taking off your gloves. 

To remove the gloves, tent your gloves from the palm, pulling up in the center. While at it, be careful not to pull too hard or fast because you could rip it. If you accidentally rip your glove or touch a contaminated area, quickly wash your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer.

  1. Place in a Rubbish Bag

The next step is to carefully place the gloves in a yellow or orange rubbish bag pending disposal. If the gloves are not properly discarded, this presents a serious environmental threat. 

What Can I Do With Old Disposable Gloves?

If you don’t want to dispose of your used rubber gloves, there are numerous ways for using them.

  • Removing wool debris. Disposable gloves have a rubber button near the wrist area. You can use that rubber to remove hair debris, pet fur, and dust from your clothes. Simply rub onto any surface to pull out any debris. 
  • Protective gear. The thimble of a disposable glove can be used to protect household appliances from slippage. 

How to Recycle Disposable Gloves

If they’re yet to be contaminated by toxic chemicals or clinical waste, disposable gloves can be recycled. 

Some companies like  TerraCycle offer solutions for all types of waste including disposable gloves. 

However, you shouldn’t get used to recycling gloves as they may pose a threat to other people. If you can, ensure you throw your disposable gloves in your rubbish bin. 

Fortunately, latex material is 100% biodegradable and will take your disposable gloves around five years to fully decompose. 

Better yet, you can donate your unused disposable gloves to your friends or loved ones instead of discarding them. 

Currently, many countries have activated frameworks for receiving donations of gloves and other protective equipment, to help them fight COVID-19. 

Donating to your government might also be a great idea. 

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