The plastics industry continues to forge ahead with efforts to fill the healthcare sector’s vast need for protective devices and materials.
Huhtamaki, the Finnish manufacturer sustainable food on-the-go and food on-the-shelf packaging solutions, has announced that it is ramping up production of its CE marked high-quality protective face shields to 8 million shields per week in June. The shields are designated for health care workers and other close contact occupations.
At Huhtamaki, what initially started as a local initiative with a partner at its folding carton packaging plant in Belfast, Ireland has snowballed into a much bigger project, with the company now leveraging its know-how and planning to produce this personal protective equipment at five additional locations in Europe.
To manufacture the PFS’s the company is repurposing its folding carton packaging machinery to precision-cut optically clear and lightweight visors. For extra comfort and to ensure a close fit for increased safety for all head sizes, the visors are then combined with a padded adjustable strap. For hygiene and safety reasons the protective face shields are a single-use product. The visor is made of PET that can be recycled and Huhtamaki is looking into making the face shields 100% recyclable in the future. At medical facilities however, once used the face shields are treated as medical waste.
Commercial deliveries outside the UK are expected to start during May.
And after building 4 hand sanitiser plants in Europe in record time, Ineos plans to repeat the feat in the USA. Demonstrating a ‘whatever-it-takes’ approach, the company is now building 2 new facilities, one in Jacksonville, near Little Rock Arkansas and the other at Neville Island in Pennsylvania. Each site will produce 1 million bottles of hand sanitiser each month, to help with the nationwide shortage. These will be produced according to World Health Organization specifications, specifically designed to kill bacteria and viruses.
The hand sanitiser will be provided to hospitals free of charge for the period of the crisis with the public being able to purchase bottles through retailers.
Production in Jacksonville started this week where already 3,600 gallons are being produced a day. First deliveries have today been made to Baptist Health and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, both in Little Rock.