There has been a lot of discussion lately about the use of gloves in our field. While some conservators feel comfortable reusing disposable nitrile gloves, others think this could be potentially dangerous to contaminate objects and recommend single use systems. Either way, the gloves that we use end up in a landfill or incinerator. So how can we mitigate this problem? SiC showcases several options to help you be more sustainable, but the underlying question here is: do we need gloves, and if so, are disposable nitrile the right ones to use?
I have spent the past couple of years researching more sustainable alternatives for disposable nitrile gloves and have come up with a couple of solutions:
Kimberly Clark offers the RightCycle program which recycles used gloves. We use this program at the University of Amsterdam. The caveat is that you must use Kimberly Clark gloves to be eligible. If you already use Kimtech* gloves you can enroll and start recycling right away.
TerraCycle recycles all brands of nitrile gloves, but only in North America. This program has nominal fees associated with participation.
TerraCycle internationally offers recycling programs for all kinds of other waste as well:
https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/ (or google TerraCycle to find your local division)
There are biodegradable gloves from Showabest: the GreeN-Dex Biodegradable nitrile glove. Some testing has been done with good results in the US and the UK. These gloves are slightly more expensive than standard nitrile gloves.