Disposable VS Reusable Protective Clothing

Let's discuss the advantages and disadvantages of single-use versus reusable protective clothing. 



Icons_Food Safety PROTECTION: Level& Type

An important consideration is the degree of protection offered by the two types of clothing. Single-use is generally made from high tensile strength virgin plastic and reusable from cotton or polyester fabric.

DISPOSABLE

Pro:

  • Light & flexible
    Excellent protection against fluids when frequent clothing changes are required
Con:
  • Less durable

     

REUSABLE

Pro:

  • Can be worn multiple times if material not compromised
  • Durable & suitable for physical work

Con:

  • Requires frequent washing at high temperatures with potentially toxic chemicals to meet FDA & other regulations
  • Can be heavy with reduced flexibility & mobility

 

Disposable Clothing Meat Cutting - Vipavlenkoff_Shutterstock

Did You Know?

Due to foreign matter found in washed clothing, single-use, made from high tensile strength virgin plastic (polyethylene, LDPE) was developed for New Zealand’s food processing industries in order to meet the demanding customer food safety and hygiene requirements.

 


Icon_Cost COST

A detailed price analysis of clothing's actual lifetime cost must include:

DISPOSABLE

Pro:

  • Cost efficiencies per piece
  • Quality & thickness of the material will determine strength, durability & cost

Con:

  • Waste disposal costs, if not recycled


REUSABLE

Con:

  • Added costs of laundering & decontamination, inspection & repairs 
  • Number of times a garment can be reused before repair or disposal (up to 75 washings before deterioration)
  • Outsourced rental costs, inc. laundering, repairs & replacement
  • Expensive per piece
Poultry Meat Processing - Disposable Clothing Cropped

 

Studies have shown the average cost of a disposable apron was equivalent to $0.18. Compare this to a reusable apron at $0.58, due mainly to the high cost of preparation and washing.

 

Icons_Environmental ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Consider which type has a greater environmental impact:

DISPOSABLE

Pro:

  • Eagle’s range of PE clothing is able to be recycled via a closed loop process, allowing customers to buy back the recycled material in the form of trash bin liners*

Con:

  • Increases waste, unless recycled*

REUSABLE

Con:

  • Must be laundered at high temperatures
    • High energy & water consumption
    • Deteriorates fabric
  • Chemical pollution from laundering

 


The assumption that disposable clothing has a greater environmental impact than reusable is debatable.

Meat Workers with Disposable Clothing

 

Icons_Protection Food Safety: Cross-Contamination Implications

The primary sources of L. monocytogenes contamination within food-processing plants are employees, through their clothing or skin coming into direct contact with products.

DISPOSABLE

Pro:

  • More likely to be changed, ensuring against clothing related cross-contamination






     

REUSABLE

Con:

  • Can spread contamination due to poor food safety practices
  • May not be changed as often as necessary to avoid cross-contamination, especially when handling ready-to-eat (RTE) product
  • Can increase the chance of soilage with food or dirt particles since worn for longer periods of time
  • Can be worn in restrooms, during breaks or outside the food contact area


Enforced food safety practices prevent clothing from spreading contamination, assisted by the ease of single-use clothing changes.

PPE Clothing 300x225

Eagle Protect Disposable Clothing

Eagle Protect offers a full line of high-quality low-density polyethylene (LDPE) protective clothing. From disposable aprons and smocks to long sleeve thumbloop gowns, Eagle's clothing is custom designed for a range of coverage requirements.

For an environmentally friendly bonus, Eagle's PE items are recyclable through a closed loop process in which customers can buy back the recycled product in garbage bags.

 

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Disposable vs Reusable Clothing Handout PDF Pic