Can You Recycle Latex Gloves?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: April 29, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Latex gloves are common in the medical field and other sectors that deal with dangerous chemicals. 

They offer exceptional protection against germs, bacteria, and harmful chemicals. With everyone becoming cautious about the environment, finding a few latex gloves in your home is common.

Latex gloves are biodegradable but meant for single use only. But can you recycle latex gloves instead of throwing them? No, you can’t recycle latex gloves. Many recycling centers don’t accept them as they only offer one-time protection against bacteria, infections, and hazardous substances.

Here, we’ll explain more about the recyclability of latex gloves.

What Are Latex Gloves?

Latex gloves are a type of gloves made from natural rubber sourced from a rubber tree and used for various protective purposes. 

Rubber trees produce latex sap which gets collected and processed to make latex gloves, including other products. 

Since latex gloves come from natural rubber, they’re biodegradable and environmentally friendly. As a result, they are the best alternatives to plastic-based gloves.

However, latex gloves cause allergies among many users. That’s why some people opt for alternatives like vinyl and nitrile gloves. 

Can You Recycle Latex Gloves? 

You can’t recycle latex gloves because of their use. Most people use latex gloves for protection against harmful substances. 

It can be risky to recycle these gloves as all kinds of grime, diseases, and everything else land on them. So the last thing you’ll want is to put this glove into a recycling machine.

It won’t make sense as you will risk spreading contaminants you are trying to avoid in the first place. 

For instance, latex gloves used in hospitals come into contact with viruses, blood, and bacteria. So recycling them means exposing the gloves to bacteria and later to the users.

In addition, most recycling centers don’t accept latex gloves. 

That’s because of the risk of spreading dangerous infections, viruses, and other toxic contaminants to their staff and end-users. Besides, most of them also lack the facilities or resources required to detoxify these disposable gloves.

There’s also no need to recycle latex gloves because of their negligible impact on the environment. 

These gloves are biodegradable as they come from natural plant-based materials. So why go through the trouble of recycling latex when it can decompose in the environment?  

What Can I Do With Old Or Use Latex Gloves?

As stated, latex gloves are non-recyclable. Your local recycling center won’t accept them. If they do, be sure they won’t recycle them. 

Rather than dumping them into landfills, recycling centers will place them in sites set aside for items they can’t recycle.

But try not to take these gloves to recycling centers. Now that you can’t recycle used latex gloves, what should you do with them? The best option is to throw them into your trash can so that they can go to the local landfill.

Unlike traditional gloves, you can have peace of mind by throwing latex gloves into your dustbin and letting them go to landfills. 

That’s because these gloves are biodegradable as they come from organic material. It means they won’t affect the environment when disposed of in landfills.

They will decompose within a few months without leaching harmful chemicals that would affect the environment.

Are Latex Gloves Reusable?

Latex gloves are not reusable. They’re meant for one-time use, after which you must throw them into the trash can. 

Their use limits their reusability as they protect against harmful substances and organisms. It may expose you to harmful viruses, bacteria, and other chemicals it protects against.

According to OSHA, you should change latex gloves every 4-6 hours. But the time will depend on the substance you’re handling. 

If you damage or tear latex gloves, you must change them right away because they won’t offer any protection.

Latex gloves are also incredibly affordable and decomposable. So there’s no need to strain yourself.

Can You Compost Latex Gloves?

Yes. Latex gloves contain natural materials, meaning you can add them to your compost heap. They’ll decompose over time to form a great fertilizer. 

In most cases, latex gloves will decompose within several months. 

But remember that you are using latex gloves to protect yourself from diseases and toxic substances. Therefore, throwing them into your compost heap won’t be a good idea. 

That’s because the disease may grow in your compost heap.

While this risk is very minimal, it’s something you can’t assume. No one would want to use diseased fertilizer on their crops. 

So you should refrain from composting latex gloves. They’ll affect the quality of your compost, and that’s not what you want.

Are Latex Gloves Biodegradable?

Yes, latex gloves are biodegradable as they come from natural plant-based materials. 

Bacteria, fungi, and other microbes will act on these gloves, naturally breaking them down into organic fertilizer. 

Plus, they won’t cause toxic leaks that would affect the environment. 

How Long Does It Take Latex To Decompose? 

Latex gloves are decomposable, but that can’t happen overnight. Unlike paper materials, latex gloves take up to five years to decompose under suitable conditions.

However, it may take longer if one interferes with the conditions or its manufacture. An article by Cranfield University reveals that natural rubber in latex gloves decomposes 100 times faster than synthetic rubber. 

Synthetic rubber may take up to 100 years to decompose.  

Are Latex Gloves Good or Bad For the Environment?

These gloves are good for the environment because they are biodegradable. 

They don’t cause toxic chemicals during decomposition, meaning they won’t raise environmental concerns like plastic gloves.

However, if not correctly handled, they may spread diseases, viruses, germs, and other toxins to the surrounding environment. 

Bacteria and viruses may hold on to them and find their way back to us through the soil and contaminated compost.

Conclusion: Can You Recycle Latex Gloves?

Most recycling centers don’t have the resources required to purify latex gloves, so they will never accept them. 

These gloves are for one-time use, after which you should throw them into the trash can.

Any attempt to recycle or re-use these gloves poses the risk of spreading infections. But they are biodegradable, hence eco-friendly.

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