Eco-Friendly Disposable Gloves: Are They an Option for Medical and Food Service Settings?

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Glove Intelligent Assistant

In today’s world, where sustainability and environmental consciousness are paramount, the demand for eco-friendly alternatives in various industries is rapidly increasing. One area that has received considerable attention is the disposable glove industry, especially in medical and food service settings. At SW, we always strive to lessen the burden of manufacturing disposable gloves has on the environment. One of our long-term goals is to revolutionize the glove industry in lessening its overall carbon footprint.

Disposable gloves are an essential component in medical and food service settings, where hygiene and safety are of utmost importance. However, conventional disposable gloves are typically made from synthetic materials such as latex, vinyl, or nitrile, which are derived from fossil fuels and are not biodegradable. It’s estimated that 300 billion gloves are used solely in the US each year across various industries (Medical Plastic News, Joshi 2021). These gloves contribute to waste and pollution, which has prompted a search for eco-friendly alternatives.



Medical professionals most often favor nitrile as their glove material of choice. Nitrile tends to not trigger dermatitis or latex allergies compared to traditional latex gloves and conveniently has a longer shelf life. The material is comparable in comfort and dexterity with latex while offering more puncture resistance, is able to tolerate higher temperature environments, and is more resistant to chemical solvents.

The food industry prefers vinyl as their glove material of choice. Vinyl gloves are extremely cost effective while offering adequate sanitary protection. It is a material that has resistance against water, oils, and fats. Vinyl gloves, more importantly, do not carry latex proteins which can cause life threatening allergic reactions. Vinyl is the third most produced type of plastic polymer in the plastics industry.


Nitrile glove is made of a synthetic rubber material that traditionally take decades to degrade in landfills since it is a highly resistant material produced from fusing strong chemicals together. While vinyl, a type of plastic, is less resistant, it contains high amounts of chlorine. Both materials degrade extremely slowly, leading to excess build up in landfills.

This is a significant concern due to the high volume of gloves being used and disposed of globally. Disposable gloves are commonly used in various industries, including healthcare, food service, manufacturing, and household settings, leading to substantial waste generation. The buildup of landfill waste contributes to the generation of methane gas, can easily cause fires, and are costly to operate and its emissions pose a threat to human health.


The glove manufacturing industry cannot simply keep on manufacturing gloves in an unsustainable fashion. There is no future to be had if the industry does not innovate and cultivate a sustainable future.

One option gaining traction is the use of biodegradable gloves. SW is the FIRST glove manufacturer who received FDA’s 510K approval for its EcoTek Sustainable Nitrile Glove. This established the safety and effectiveness of new medical device, ensuring regulatory compliance and fostering trust in the industry. These gloves are designed to break down in landfill reducing the environmental impact compared to traditional gloves.

Ecotek sustainable gloves offer several advantages for medical and food service applications. First and foremost, they provide a similar level of protection as their conventional counterparts, ensuring the safety and hygiene standards required in these industries. They are also latex-free, making them suitable for individuals with latex allergies or sensitivities from chemical residues.

Furthermore, eco-friendly gloves can help reduce waste and lower the carbon footprint associated with disposable gloves. By choosing sustainable options, medical and food service establishments can demonstrate their commitment to environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility. It aligns with the growing consumer demand for businesses to adopt eco-friendly practices and can enhance the reputation of these organizations.

SW has worked hard to develop our Ecotek technology. This products has been tested per ASTM D5526*.SW as a company has been operating since 1984 and continues to pursue environmentally sustainable praxis that benefit the industry’s longevity, which is not possible without working on protecting the Earth from further climate change.

*EcoTek gloves tested to ASTM D5526-12 Standard Test Method for Determining Anaerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials Under Accelerated Landfill Conditions. Results are 92.6% biodegradation in 60% solids landfill at 945 days. Future results cannot be predicted/extrapolated. If you need more information on the test reports, send email to