Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT, SABIC and Procter & Gamble (P&G) have announced their collaboration in an innovative circular economy pilot project aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of closed-loop recycling of single-use face masks.
The billions of disposable face masks used during the COVID-19 pandemic is raising environmental concerns, especially those that have been thoughtlessly discarded in public spaces. Apart from the challenge of dealing with such huge volumes of essential personal healthcare items in a sustainable way, simply throwing the used masks away for disposal on landfill sites or in incineration plants represents a loss of valuable feedstock for new material. “Recognising the challenge, we set out to explore how used face masks could be returned into the value chain of new face mask production,” said Dr Peter Dziezok, director R&D open innovation at P&G. “But creating a true circular solution from both a sustainable and an economically feasible perspective takes partners. We therefore teamed up with Fraunhofer CCPE and Fraunhofer UMSICHT’s expert scientists and SABIC’s Technology & Innovation specialists to investigate potential solutions.”