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How to Dispose of Nitrile Gloves
You’ve finished using your gloves – now what do you do with them?
You can’t reuse your disposable nitrile gloves, even if they look like they’re still in great condition after being worn once.
Why can’t you reuse disposable gloves?
After a few hours of wear, disposable gloves start to lose their strength and their protective barrier starts to degrade. This means you won’t be protected against injuries, chemicals, and viruses.
That leaves you with the question of what to do with your gloves when you’re finished with them. It should go without saying: never, ever, throw your used gloves on the ground so that someone else can deal with them!
Here are some tips on how to safely dispose of nitrile gloves.
At a glance:
When to Throw Away Nitrile Gloves
If your gloves are contaminated, such as because they’ve been exposed to germs, you’ll want to ensure that you throw them away properly.
You can do this in the rubbish bin, but just make sure you close the garbage bin lid.
Or, go one step further to ensure no one can become contaminated by the gloves by putting them in a bag and tying a knot before throwing that bag into the trash. While not as biodegradable as latex, nitrile will eventually break down in landfills so it can go into the trash.
However, before you throw your gloves away in a bin located outside a supermarket, bear in mind the best bin in which to dispose of your nitrile gloves is a bin that has a plastic liner.
This is because disposed gloves, especially those that have been in contact with harsh chemicals, can break and tear into smaller pieces, which makes them difficult to pick up and throw away.
No one else should have to pick up your dirty, possibly contaminated, gloves. It’s best to put the gloves in a plastic bag and throw it out in your trash once you get home.
You might not have thought about it, but if you throw your gloves without ensuring you’ve done so safely, these gloves could end up in the environment and even the oceans, where they produce pollution and can be harmful to wildlife.
For examples, small pieces of nitrile or latex from disposable gloves can be mistaken for food by birds, and result in their injury or death.
How to Remove Contaminated Gloves Safely
It’s not just where you dispose of your used gloves that’s important but also how you do so.
You have to take care to remove your gloves properly so that you reduce the chance that they could contaminate others, such as the people who have to collect the trash. In order to ensure that your gloves are not dangerous to others, make sure you remove them properly.
With one hand, pinch your glove at the wrist and peel it away from your hand, making sure to turn it inside out as you do so.
If you’re more of a visual learner, the CDC has a handy guide as to how to safely remove your disposable gloves: “How To Properly Remove Gloves.”
Once your gloves have been removed, you should end up with one glove inside the other and both inside out, as this makes them easier to handle without the risk of bacteria or viruses on the outside of the gloves coming into contact with people.
Are Nitrile Gloves Hazardous Waste?
Biohazardous waste includes anything that’s come into contact with infectious substances, like blood or other bodily fluids.
Like all personal protective equipment (PPE), used gloves can be considered biohazardous waste if they’ve come into contact with dangerous chemicals, such as in a science lab.
Also, if your gloves have come into contact with bodily fluids, then they’re considered hazardous waste and you must be careful not to leave them lying around to avoid spreading disease.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that disposable gloves can contain bacteria before they’re even used!
Research has found that unused gloves can be contaminated by bacteria – up to 10,000 bacteria per glove!
Why is this the case?
Disposable gloves are non-sterile so they could have bacteria growing on them after they’ve been packaged. To make matters worse, if the manufacturing process involves a lack of hygiene, then this can exacerbate the problem.
How to Dispose of Nitrile Gloves
While you might think it’s safe to throw your disposable gloves in the kitchen or bathroom bin in your home where they will remain for days, it’s not necessarily a good idea.
It’s better to put them out into the dumpster so that they’re ready for garbage collection. This prevents any contaminants on the gloves from coming into contact with anyone or spreading germs around the home.
An unfortunate truth about glove disposal by laboratories or people who work with chemicals is that they usually end up in the garbage due to their contamination with hazardous material. This makes up a quarter of the waste that labs send to the landfill every year.
If they’ve only been used for light work and haven’t come into contact with any hazardous chemicals or substances, it may be possible to recycle your nitrile gloves.
Some communities will accept used disposable gloves in their general recycling bins. Check with your local waste management system to see if gloves are accepted.
If your municipality doesn’t accept gloves for recycling, you may be able to get a recycling program partnership set up specifically for disposable glove recycling. With a little effort, you can do your part to make sure your disposable gloves don’t wind up in landfills.
Where to Dispose of Nitrile Gloves
If you’ve worn your disposable nitrile gloves once, they’ve unfortunately reached the end of their lifespan. Depending on how they were used, they’re likely considered contaminated and it could be unsafe to try to reuse them.
As we’ve noted throughout this article, there are really only two places to dispose of a used nitrile glove: the trash bin (not the kitchen trash!), or, if you’re fortunate enough to be near one, a recycling program that accepts them.
Of course, if your gloves have reached the end of their service and you’re looking to replace them, we’ve got you covered with a wide variety of high-quality, affordable nitrile gloves.
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