There is a global shift and increased awareness of the need for a more sustainable future. There is now a focus on climate and environmental sustainability by changing the way we as a society, live, work and play. A study by Unilever reported, “a third of consumers (33%) are now choosing to buy from brands based on their social and environmental impact.”

Change is one of the hardest things for us to do, even if the reasoning is justified and everyone has bought into it. Changing habits can cause resistance.

As a Certified B Corporation®, we are working to do our part to reduce the environmental impact of our customers as well as providing quality products and change the way we think about disposable gloves. How are we doing that:

  • Onsite disposable glove and clothing assessments on correct product selection, and efficiencies of use.
  • Reduced packaging reduces waste and shipping costs by fitting more products in cargo containers.
  • Focus on raw material quality & manufacturing standards to reduce glove failures out of the box and during usage.

The largest savings we can help our customers make is through their disposable glove use, all done without implementing any process changes. Read more in our Impact Report here

Yes, at first it sounds like an oxymoron. Think of the opportunity. Every company in the food & medical industries uses disposable gloves - thousands of them every single day! Gloves are a food safety & health necessity and mandated by the FDA. These are not currently recyclable in New Zealand. That does not mean we can’t do them better. 


Bodhi's Surf YogaWith over an estimated 300 million disposable gloves used in New Zealand each year, across various industries, we are often asked by companies for the best solution to reduce their environmental impact of glove use. The recycling option is frequently asked about, but as per the 6 Rs, it should be one of the last options to consider. 

Picture Credit: Bodhi's Surf Yoga


The FDA Food Code stipulates food handlers should not handle ready-to-eat food with bare hands, rather by using utensils such as single-use gloves. In most cases refusing gloves is not an option.


Eagle is committed to responsible environmental sourcing, which ensures the impacts of glove production are assessed. We continually work to find solutions to minimize the negative impact of our products on the planet.

By supplying new technology manufactured gloves of superior quality with improved durability, we can reduce our customers’ usage by up to 30%. New technology Eagle nitrile gloves are lightweight yet highly durable, and provide significant waste savings in terms of glove weight and associated packaging.

With increasing consumer demand for better transparency, companies can easily reduce their own environmental impact by considering their glove type, weight and most importantly quality; instantly reducing their overall environmental footprint.
Our own disposable glove Waste Savings Calculator can help calculate your waste and impact savings through lightweight yet durable, premium quality and cost effective Eagle nitrile gloves.

Included in Eagle Protects’ Research & Development, we worked with one of New Zealand’s largest infrastructure construction companies to research the recycling potential of Eagle nitrile disposable gloves, for reuse as a bitumen additive for some of their road surface products.

Glove samples were shredded and added to a routine production grade bitumen sample. However, there was a lack of softening or dissolving of the material to blend effectively with the bitumen mixture, even after extreme temperatures over prolonged periods of time.  Further research indicated the physical properties of nitrile polymers used in glove manufacturing require a melting point of 284°C, an unsustainable & costly temperature to maintain.

We are currently working with other businesses to look at other avenues to explore.  

The last option to consider when reviewing the environmental impact of your gloves. At present in New Zealand, latex, nitrile & vinyl disposable gloves are not recyclable or reusable due to most glove applications resulting in hazardous contamination. The most appropriate place for these at present is unfortunately landfill. New Zealand’s size means that we don’t have large recycling facilities that can take bio-hazardous waste, sterilise it and put it back into the recycling process easily. Current recycling facilities are operated at a regional/council level and cannot take the materials we use. 

As there aren’t facilities to manage contaminated glove recycling in New Zealand, TerraCycle NZ have alternative programs for other plastic streams. For material not contaminated with blood or bodily fluids they also offer a Zero Waste Box option. 

Due to the vast economic structure of the United States, TerraCycle US are able to set up a Glove Zero Waste Program which can recycle Pharmaceutical & Laboratory disposable gloves into pelletisation to be moulded into new recycled plastic products. The additional collection bin and shipping is estimated to approximately double the cost of gloves, making it less feasible for some companies. 

With the large scale of the US, our California branch are able to partner with Revolution Bag to assist customers in recycling a range of Eagle gloves and clothing products. Revolution Bag follows a closed loop process, allowing customers to buy back the recycled material in the form of trash liners.

Compostable gloves are made from Polylactic acid (PLA), a plastic substitute made from fermented plant starch. These gloves must be disposed of in commercial composting facilities to be of environmental benefit, and currently only a few hundred industrial-grade composting facilities can be found across the US. In New Zealand, these gloves are best suited to home composting (cutting up into smaller pieces) due to lack of regional commercial composting facilities that accept these gloves. Compostable gloves do not have any FDA compliance testing, therefore are not a recommended food safe option or for use with chemicals. 

Latex gloves are made from natural rubber using a tree tapping process from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree, and are understood to biodegrade at a faster rate than other glove types. Latex gloves are not used in food handling due to potential consumer and glove user allergies.

Nitrile gloves typically consist of non-biodegradable materials, but recently, alternatives labeled as 'biodegradable' have emerged. While nitrile is derived from petrochemicals and so doesn't biodegrade, it does degrade over time into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass.

We're actively exploring options for 'biodegradable' nitrile gloves, but thus far, we haven't identified any that offer clear advantages when considering their total environmental impact. Read more about why consideration of the full glove lifecycle is necessary when selecting a sustainable glove option, including responsibly sourced nitrile gloves with proven performance, no harmful toxins and an overall reduction in glove usage and waste.

Vinyl gloves are non-biodegradable and made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and plasticisers. The human health impacts of PVC across its lifecycle, including disposal and occupational exposure, find PVC leads to the release of dangerous quantities of dioxin and other carcinogens, putting PVC consistently among the worst materials for human health impacts. This is one of several reasons Eagle Protect chose to discontinue sales of vinyl disposable gloves.

Polyethylene gloves are made from a polymer that is synthesised from ethylene and a thermoplastic that is formed into various shapes as it cools from a liquid state to a solid state. Like vinyl gloves these are non-biodegradable but do have the potential to be recycled in New Zealand. 


The overall concept is that a stronger but thinner quality glove, like our FineTOUGH nitrile gloves, will decrease:

  • Glove Use: 
    • Strong gloves have lower failure rates = reduced usage
  • Waste: 
    • Stronger gloves = Fewer gloves used and discarded. 
    • Thinner gloves = reduced waste weight
  • Water Use: 
    • Fewer gloves used requires fewer gloves to be made (glove manufacturing is a water intense process)
  • Packaging: 
    • Thinner gloves require smaller boxes
  • Carbon Emissions:
    • Smaller boxes pack and ship more efficiently, allowing more gloves to be shipped by fewer vehicles
    • Reduced usage = reduced container shipments


FineTOUGH nitrile gloves are lightweight and strong gloves due to new technology manufacturing. These gloves allow users to receive more product in less packaging, will reduce both glove and packaging disposal waste, as well as water used during manufacturing and transport carbon emissions.

Although Vinyl (PVC) single-use gloves are banned in Japan for food handling due to their well-documented adverse effects on health, these still remain a common glove for ready to eat food handling and Aged Care industries in New Zealand. Due to their brittleness and propensity to puncture, vinyl gloves are manufactured much thicker. Studies prove a 10-fold increase in the average failure rate of vinyl gloves compared to nitrile gloves; a high failure rate indicates a higher rate of disposal. 

We estimate, by changing from vinyl to our higher-quality nitrile gloves, a company’s overall glove use would decrease around 15-25%. The weight of gloves to be disposed of would also decrease due to lighter individual glove weight (FineTOUGH weight is 3g, while the average vinyl is around 5g).

Added sustainability without sacrificing food or health safety, and importantly, no change of process required!

As long as disposable gloves are also being used correctly, you are good. Correct glove size choice and correct donning & doffing procedures play a huge factor in this. 

Employees will also thank you for a better quality glove. Wearing a thick, hard, poor-quality glove for 8 hours each day can lead to many issues for glove wearers, including reduced efficiency and dermal and muscular problems.

Let’s find out if together we can reduce your disposable glove usage and waste produced, at no extra cost to your business. With our expertise on correct product selection and use, together with providing you an improved quality of products, we can help reduce the environmental impact of your business.

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