Borealis, a leading provider of innovative plastics solution, and paper republic, a Vienna-based stationery brand, have teamed up in a social business initiative, named mask republic, for the production of sustainable, and reusable face masks.
mask republic, which has been launched amid the COVID-19 pandemic, will supply face masks across Austria thanks to a reliable network of value chain partners, local and regional government organisations, and NGOs. Testing at Borealis laboratory facilities shows that the mask republic face masks provide up to four times more effective filtration than conventional hand-sewn face masks. Since washing the masks does not impact filtration effectiveness, they are perfectly washable and reusable without losing their filtration performance and therefore help to counter waste.
The mask republic partnership sees Borealis provide filtration media fabrics made using their new polypropylene (PP) resin for meltblown applications: Borealis HL912FB. Face mask design, manufacture and sales are being organised by paper republic. The initiative involves providing local and regional tailors, who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a custom-designed kit to assemble these masks from a light cotton fabric.
mask republic demonstrates how unlikely partners can come together to contribute to the communities in which they operate. “Some months ago it quickly became clear that Austria, like many other countries around the world, was facing one of the biggest health and safety challenges in nearly a century,” says Jérôme Bacquias, founder and Managing Director of paper republic. “We immediately knew that we had a mission to help the communities around us. These difficult times have brought us together with Borealis, in an extraordinary partnership that we are certain will benefit many.”
Demand for effective face masks has increased significantly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Solutions are required that provide protection against the novel coronavirus, while at the same time enabling wearers to breathe easily. The need for face masks is expected to remain strong as European countries begin to loosen lockdowns and some introduce the mandatory wearing of face masks in public spaces.
Borealis is the clear European market leader in PP resins for meltblown applications. These materials are particularly effective in hygiene applications, such as diapers and face masks, where micro- and nanofibre materials are required for barrier purposes. Due to the growing demand for face masks, Borealis recently converted a meltblown pilot line at its Linz, Austria, Innovation Headquarters for the small-scale production of fine fibre fabrics for these applications. The newly developed Borealis grade HL912FB is already being used on this line to produce meltblown fabrics for customised inlays in cotton-based mouth-nose masks, conventional mouth-nose masks, and possibly later on also for high-end face masks worn by medical professionals (FFP2, FFP3 and N95).
“We are very excited to be a part of an initiative through Borealis Social Fund, that benefits Austrian communities, while enabling us to provide our expertise and material solutions to improve people’s health, and safety, while being resource efficient and preventing waste,” explains Dorothea Wiplinger, Borealis Sustainability & Project STOP Manager. “The innovative Borealis material makes the masks more effective, while the design is not only fashionable but also sustainable, and safely reusable. Furthermore, we are also stimulating local employment. Borealis and paper republic demonstrate what reinventing for more sustainable living looks like.”