Have you ever thought about what happens to the single-use items we throw away after each patient? Studies show that an average of 21 single-use plastic items are used and discarded during a single patient encounter, much higher than before the pandemic.1
Imagine 21 items multiplied by several patients per provider in a single day. It’s safe to say that a majority of practices do not recycle their disposables, which means that all this clinical waste occupies landfills without ever biodegrading.
An applicable solution to the waste
Cranberry is actively cleaning up the dental industry’s waste footprint by offering Bio Nitrile, a powder-free biodegradable exam glove that exceeds infection control standards, clinical performance, and environmental safety. Their grassroots evaluators had the opportunity to test drive these revolutionary gloves and provide feedback on what’s most important to them concerning clinical waste and function.
When asked why ecofriendly products are important to the dental industry, the evaluators acknowledged that clinicians go through a high volume of disposable items during a relatively short period of time. They recognized personal protective equipment (PPE) as being the primary source of clinical waste in practices, and they had concerns with the rapid rate of waste accumulation in landfills.
Before this evaluation, many participants admitted they hadn’t given much thought to what happens to disposable items used in the operatory, but they want to make changes to reduce future waste. All evaluators agreed that choosing environmentally friendly single-use products is an easy way to practice more responsibly.
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What the reviewers had to say
The Bio Nitrile glove is designed with biodegradable material that breaks down by 80% within 18 months. This is accomplished using a unique formulation of active organic microbials that allow the nitrile to decompose rapidly upon disposal.
In addition to this ecofriendly property, evaluators were impressed with the level of comfort they experienced when they wore the gloves. They described the material as soft and stretchy, like a second skin. They said the fit was not too snug and not too loose. Many commented on the flexibility of the material, which is made for relaxed wear and easy donning and doffing.
In terms of clinical performance, the Bio Nitrile glove received a variety of compliments from evaluators. Most commented on how thin the glove is, which aided in comfort and tactile sensitivity during instrumentation. One participant stated they were used to using a much thicker glove that inhibits what they can feel with their fingertips, and they were pleasantly surprised with the feel of the Bio Nitrile.
As thin as the material feels, Cranberry has formulated it to provide strong puncture resistance to protect clinicians. Evaluators were impressed by the strength of the material, saying that they experienced no breaks or tears during wear time.
Lastly, participants enjoyed the product quantity. They said that a high glove count is important because of reduced packaging waste and storage space. Additionally, it was noted that the 300-glove count per box provided a significant degree of everyday convenience, as clinicians weren’t required to leave their working area to replenish their glove supply nearly as often when compared to their previous packaged gloves. With the number of gloves a provider goes through in an average clinical day, a generous supply makes a big difference in supporting a smooth workflow and reducing waste.
Ready for a shift?
The dental industry will always need a variety of single-use products to provide safe, quality patient care. With that in mind, we need to be conscientious about the quantity of clinical waste we produce. As oral health-care providers, we have a responsibility to protect the health of not just each patient, but the public at large. This can be done in part by being good stewards of the products and materials we discard.
Cranberry’s Bio Nitrile biodegradable gloves are one way we can accomplish this. With eco-friendly material that provides clinicians with protection, comfort, and performance, it’s easy to see why many practices are making the shift. Are you ready?
This article has been revised to reflect new testing of the biodegradability of the Bio Nitrile glove.
This article appeared in the September 2023 print edition of RDH magazine. Dental hygienists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.
- Martin N, Mulligan S, Fuzesi P, Hatton PV. Quantification of single use plastics waste generated in clinical dental practice and hospital settings. J Dent. 2022;118:103948. doi:10.1016/j.jdent.2022.103948