SHOWA Group’s Eco Best Technology biodegradable nitrile gloves don’t compromise on hand protection and performance, providing a trusted and environmentally-friendly option for mining operations.
Hand injuries are one of the biggest safety concerns in the mining industry, with finger fractures, lacerations and crush injuries just a few of the common occurrences in the sector.
Hands are also complex body parts and often don’t recover the same or perform as well following a serious injury. This is where SHOWA Group comes into the picture.
With 58 patents to its name and more than 100 researchers and developers advancing the company’s vision for innovation and environmental preservation, SHOWA is an industry leader in hand protection.
SHOWA manufactures gloves for many different industries and purposes, and it’s the company’s Eco Best Technology (EBT) nitrile range that is proving to be a sturdy environmental asset for industrial operations.
Biodegradable and made from organic materials, SHOWA’s EBT gloves create less of a footprint after-use – something which SHOWA research and development (R&D) manager Brian Moseley says is a critical feature.
“The beauty of the product is that the lifespan once it enters into a landfill is much shorter than a typical nitrile glove,” Moseley says.
“The benefit of that is that it’s good for the environment but in addition to that, the end user, whether it’s mining, whether it’s food, whether it’s chemical manufacturing, doesn’t lose any protection – they get the same type of protection as they would from a typical nitrile glove.
“So instead of being industry specific, it works the same as nitrile across the board, but really gives you a good disposable plan and is good for the environment on that back-end after its useful life is up.”
Nitrile gloves are known for being robust, and perform well in abrasive conditions and in chemicals. However, they aren’t known for being well decomposed.
With its EBT range, it was SHOWA’s mission to turn the table and create a product that would deliver positive environmental benefits.
“We chose biodegradation because we can keep our carbon footprint as it is if not lower … and customers know their waste is going into the landfill and that’s when the EBT process starts, when it enters an active landfill,” Moseley says.
Biodegradation is by definition the naturally-occurring breakdown of materials through micro-organisms whereby the end components are reintegrated into the earth and are useable again.
Next to composting, achieving biodegradation is one of the keen pursuits of the modern sustainable world.
For SHOWA, developing its desired EBT product wasn’t easy, and took an extended process of trial and error.
“Like with any R&D product, it (the EBT glove) went through a lot of iterations and we had to design it around a lot of protocols,” Moseley says.
“When you’re the first to market, a lot of times you’re having to define some of these things. And Showa was the first to market on this type of technology.
“So we looked at the different tests out there, we looked at the different claims and we looked at the different waste cycles and the waste streams that people were having to do, and we designed something that would be easy for the customer.”
SHOWA then looked at the current nitrile options on the market and narrowed its gaze from there.
Moseley says the company decided it needed to develop a glove superior to a regular nitrile glove.
“A regular nitrile glove, it can stay decades and decades, if not hundreds of years, in landfill and essentially be almost inert, and that’s where we wanted to improve,” Moseley says.
While achieving biodegradation was a quintessential goal in the creation of SHOWA’s EBT gloves, the company knew it couldn’t afford to lose out on performance.
“When we were designing EBT in the R&D lab, the first thing we talked about was we wanted a product that would be a really good green product for the environment – that was one of our goals,” Moseley says.
“Along with creating a really good green product for the environment, we also wanted a glove that did not sacrifice performance.
“So, we set it upon ourselves that we had to hit both of those goals or the project would die and so, yeah it’s great to come out with a green product, but if we sacrifice customer protection, I don’t feel like we’ve won.”
SHOWA’s EBT range spans several different variations starting with its four-mil (0.10mm) 6110PF and 6112PF single-use gloves, then making its way up to the 7500PF and 7502PF new disposables.
For heavier applications, SHOWA also offers its nine-mil (0.23mm) 707HVO, as well as its 15-mil (0.38mm) 728 and 731 gloves – three reliable options when handling chemicals.
SHOWA was recognised as the first-ever glove company to achieve the GreenCircle biodegradation certificate – an endorsement of the company’s environmental capability.
But despite its success, SHOWA won’t rest on its laurels. The company will continue to add to and enhance its EBT portfolio in the future.
“You never sit, you never sit and stop. We started with one product of course and then we’ve just been adding to that portfolio for the last several years,” Moseley says.
“That’s probably where I see most of the work going – continuing to add to that portfolio because not one glove can satisfy all means and we’ve got several products out, but we’re not there yet.
“There still needs to be different types of diversified products for different claims with this technology and I would see more additions to that portfolio coming.”
Through its unique combination of proven performance and biodegradation, SHOWA’s EBT range is protecting hands and saving the planet at the same time.
In a mining industry where hand injuries continue to be an issue and decarbonisation is the talk of the town, SHOWA’s EBT gloves could be the dream product.
This article appears in the November issue of Safe To Work.