Why plastic packaging is crucial for cleanroom consumables

Published: 1-Apr-2024

In this article, we explore Ansell’s approach to cleanroom consumables packaging, the crucial role that plastic packaging plays and the company’s initiatives regarding sustainable packaging and reducing its environmental impact

Products that are sensitive to contamination — whether they’re pharmaceuticals, microelectronics or medical devices — need to be manufactured and packed in a strictly controlled environment.

This is an isolated area often referred to as a “cleanroom.” Cleanroom consumables such as gloves, disposable coveralls, RABS and isolator gloves, goggles and facemasks worn during the product manufacturing process need to be packed within a controlled environment and in cleanroom-compatible packaging that does not pose a contamination risk.

The importance of cleanroom consumables packaging

Cleanroom consumables packaging serves three primary functions.

  • Storage: The packaging must be durable and securely hold the consumable during transportation and storage.
  • Protection: The packaging safeguards the consumable from contamination and external factors such as light, heat and moisture.
  • Traceability: The packaging displays essential manufacturing information, such as lot number, manufacturing date, expiry date, chemical protection levels and usage guidelines.

The role of plastic in cleanroom consumables packaging

Ansell’s cleanroom consumables packaging is predominantly manufactured from plastic. However, not all plastic is created equal; the plastic used in the packaging must be cleanroom compatible, for which there are several good reasons.  

  • Protection: Cleanroom consumables must be protected from contamination during shipping and handling. Plastic packaging provides a barrier against dust, moisture and other potential sources of contamination, helping to maintain the cleanliness and integrity of the products.
  • Sterilisation: Many cleanroom consumables are sterilised prior to use and plastic packaging is suitable for various sterilisation methods, such as gamma irradiation or ethylene oxide gas treatment.
  • Low particulates: Plastic packaging is also compatible with cleanroom conditions when materials with low particle generation are required.
  • Visibility: Clear plastic packaging allows for the easy identification and inspection of contents without opening the packaging. This is especially important in a cleanroom environment wherein minimising the unnecessary handling of materials is crucial.
  • Convenience: Plastic packaging is lightweight and easy to handle, making it ideal for transportation and storage. Additionally, sterile gloves are pair packed, allowing the user to quickly don a pair of gloves without needing to handle multiple pairs.

Adhering to donning guidelines for cleanroom consumables

Cleanroom consumables must meet certain international regulations and standards; and, to maintain their cleanliness specification, they must be packaged using certain methods and in particular materials.

To reach the cleanroom uncontaminated and to protect the cleanroom from any potential contamination, they must be packaged in several layers (double or triple bagged) to facilitate the opening and transfer of the consumable throughout the facility — from the warehouse to the storage room and, finally, to the changing room ready for donning — without compromising its cleanliness or sterility.

Strict adherence to donning guidelines is essential when using cleanroom consumables. We provide various donning guides and videos explaining the process for the following:

  • non-sterile gloves
  • sterile gloves
  • disposable coveralls
  • goggles and facemasks.

Tackling the plastic pollution challenge: Ansell’s pledge

Plastic pollution is an urgent environmental issue and single-use items account for 40% of the plastic produced every year.1

Many of these products, such as plastic bags, have a lifespan of minutes to hours; yet they persist in the environment for centuries.  

The production of plastic is increasing every year and some types are known to take at least 400 years to break down.

The plastic in our existing packaging comes from non-renewable resources, increases shipping volume and weight and is usually thrown away once the product is opened.  

Acknowledging this, Ansell is committed to sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of plastic. Our goal is to recycle, reuse or compost 100% of our packaging material by 2026, contributing to waste reduction and combatting plastic pollution (Packaging recyclability will depend on available disposal options in your community and on the condition of the packaging at the time of disposal.).

Ansell’s sustainable packaging initiatives

Ansell is continually working to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable packaging. Within the Ansell life sciences/cleanroom business, we’re working hard to ensure that the packaging of our consumables meets the Ansell packaging pledge, along with improving and introducing several packaging initiatives and strategic priorities to reduce the impact of our packaging on our planet, including

  • the removal of “Zero-Use”
  • sustainable configurations
  • leading digital transformation
  • reduction of materials utilisation l minimising shipping volumes.

Our smart pack packaging project is centred on three strategic priorities:

  • sustainable configurations
  • reduction of materials
  • minimising shipping volumes.

Fitting more products into packaging units results in less packaging material. Our continuous screening of customer needs helps us to define configurations that still meet those needs while reducing packaging.

The upcoming launch of our new SMART Pack packaging for our 300 mm sterile gloves will reduce the amount of plastic used in the pouch by 56% and the new packing configuration will result in a reduction of nearly one million plastic bags annually (based on 73–701 and 91–225 sales volumes). See Figure 1.2

Figure 1: SMART Pack versus current standard packaging configurations

Figure 1: SMART Pack versus current standard packaging configurations

Project instructions for use

This project targets the following strategic priorities: the removal of zero use, leading digital transformation and the reduction of materials.

To conform with the EU PPE Regulation 2016/425, all our cleanroom consumables come with an Instruction for Use (IFU) leaflet that contains important product information.

They’re printed in multiple languages on a large, folded piece of paper and enclosed within every shipper case. This equates to 7.89 tonnes of paper annually being used to print IFUs to include with our cleanroom consumable products.

One of our strategic priorities is to lead digital transformation, which means using digital technology to improve the functionality and sustainability of our product packaging.

One way to achieve this is to remove paper Instruction for Use leaflets from shipments heading to destinations outside of the EU where IFUs are not mandatory (such as North America and Latin America).

This initiative will help us to save 2.53 tonnes of paper annually, which equates to 5.47 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s equivalent to 14,672/23,614 less miles/km driven by a delivery van annually!2,3

Our other initiative for IFUs is to reduce the size of the current leaflet for shipments heading to EMEA and APAC. Reducing the size of the IFU has enabled us to eliminate 1.33 tonnes of paper annually, equating to 2.87 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the carbon footprint of the IFU by 43%.

Digital IFUs are easily accessible via the product page on www.ansell.com under the “downloads” section or by scanning the QR code on the primary (pouch/bag) consumable packaging.

Digital versions are quicker, easier and more up-to-date; scanning the QR code takes you directly to the real-time information you need.


At Ansell, we are committed to innovative cleanroom consumables packaging and sustainability. We strive to reduce our environmental impact, contribute to waste reduction and lead the way towards a more sustainable future.


  1. www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic- pollution.
  2. www.ansell.com/-/media/projects/ansell/website/pdf/investors-relations/annual-reports/2022/ansell-sustainability-report-2022.ashx.
  3. UK Government GHG Conversion Factors for Company Reporting (2021): average emission conversion factors for delivery vans up to 3.5 tonnes (diesel).

Further reading

  • Cleanroom consumables packaging: https://bit.ly/3pKxmc3.
  • SMART Pack solution and sustainability: www.ansell.com/blogs/critical-insight/Ansell-SMART-Pack---A-Sustainable-Packaging-innovation-for-Sterile-Cleanroom-PPE-Gloves.
  • More sustainable IFUs: https://bit.ly/3O8go0F.
  • Ansell's sustainability goals: ansell.com/sustainability.

Relevant companies

You may also like