Give the planet a helping hand with GloveOn Avalon
The world currently produces over 300 million tonnes of plastic each year (Emadian et al. 2017; Rujnic-Sokele et al. 2017), and creates over 30 million tonnes in plastic waste with 93% of it ending up in landfill or oceans (Emadian et al. 2017). Single-use plastics are the single major contributor to plastic waste in terrestrial and marine environments, posing a serious threat to wildlife in these environments and general public health (Emadian et al. 2017; Narancic et al. 2018). The long period of accumulation and persistence in the environment of non-biodegradable plastics allows them to enter the food chain, as well as release large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere (Emadian et al. 2017).
While personal protective equipment (PPE) plays a vital role in keeping healthcare workers safe and healthy from the daily hazards they encounter, the necessity to use disposable single-use items helps contribute to the growth in plastic waste. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen the global use of PPE substantially increase, with a recent study estimating 129 billion face masks and 65 billion examination gloves are used each month (Prata et al. 2020). With this increased use comes the increased prospect of PPE polluting our environment which will take decades, even centuries, to degrade.
With vast quantities of medical consumables and packaging ending up in landfill, new solutions are needed to reduce the impacts of this waste (Kale et al. 2007). The switch to biodegradable plastics represents a real opportunity for the health sector to help with this problem. Biodegradable plastics degrade through interactions with microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae and convert them back into carbon dioxide and water over a period of months or years as opposed to decades or centuries.
It’s important to know that not all bio-based (i.e. plant based) plastics are biodegradable, while some conventional plastics can be formulated to biodegrade. The key factor for biodegradation to occur depends upon a material’s molecular structure (also known as a polymer) rather than the material source itself (European Bioplastics 2020). Temperature, moisture, pH levels and oxygen content are all important environmental factors that affect the biodegradation of plastics (Emadian et al. 2017) and the presence of the microbes needed for biodegradation to occur. When these microbes identify a food source (e.g. biodegradable plastic), they send out chemical signals to other microbes which then colonise onto the material and begin to consume it. Over time, the plastic is consumed by the microbes and mineralised leaving behind organic material such as inert humus, CO2 and methane gas when in an anaerobic environment.
Thanks to new innovations in nitrile examination gloves, biodegradation is now a reality. GloveOn Avalon has been specially formulated to include an organic additive which attracts certain microbes found exclusively in landfill and anaerobic digester environments that break down the nitrile polymers naturally through mineralisation. Independent testing using international standards show the glove biodegrading by up to 30% in the first 7 months from disposal into a landfill environment. The unique formulation has been created so that the biodegradation process only begins once the gloves are surrounded by specific microbes present in landfill environments. This ensures GloveOn Avalon gloves will not biodegrade prior to disposal and have a shelf life of up to 3 years. GloveOn Avalon has also been created and tested to well exceed international standards for tensile strength and force at break, making them versatile for a range of clinical applications. They have also been certified for food handling and proven to be non-irritating and non-sensitising to skin.
GloveOn Avalon represents a new way forward for the disposal of exam gloves that end up in landfill. With its formulation ensuring the same quality and safety you’d expect from other nitrile exam gloves, you can feel confident in using it for your daily tasks while giving the planet a helping hand. See our website munglobal.com.au/avalon for more information.
Emadian, SM, Onay, TT, Demirel, B 2017, “Biodegradation of bioplastics in natural environments”, Waste Management, vol. 59, pp. 526-536
European Bioplastics 2020, “What are bioplastics?”, European Bioplastics e.V., accessed 15 January 2020, <https://www.european-bioplastics.org/bioplastics/>
Kale, G, Kijchavengkul, T, Auras, R, Rubino, M, Selke, SE, Singh, SP 2007, “Compostability of Bioplastic Packaging Materials: An Overview”, Macromolecular Bioscience, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 255-277
Narancic, T, Verstichel, S, Chaganti, SR, Morales-Gamez, L, Kenny, ST, De Wilde, B, Padamati, RB, O’Connor, KE 2018, “Biodegradable Plastic Blends Create New Possibilities for End-of-Life Management of Plastics but They Are Not a Panacea for Plastic Pollution”, Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 52, no. 18, pp. 10441-10452
Prata, JC, Silva, ALP, Walker, TR, Duarte, AC, Rocha-Santos, T 2020, “COVID-19 Pandemic Repercussions on the Use and Management of Plastics”, Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 54, no. 13, pp. 7760-7765
Rujnic-Sokele, M, Pilipovic, A 2017, “Challenges and opportunities of biodegradable plastics: A mini review”, Waste Management and Research, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 132-140
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