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WAKEFIELD – The Covid-19 pandemic has created a mass scramble for personal protective equipment (PPE) with several developed nations reporting critical shortages of goggles, gloves, gowns, aprons and masks, that many believe are putting patients and health care workers at risk.

A large part of the problem is down to the fact that many items of PPE are single use, disposable items and, although mega-hospitals can be built in 10 days, few people are looking at sourcing more textiles that can be rapidly cleaned, sterilised and re-used.

The textile industry now has an opportunity to design new types of PPE products that would not only be re-usable and made locally to alleviate the supply issues in the event of a much feared second wave of infection; it would also be beneficial for the environment by lowering the volumes of materials being manufactured in the first place – many of which are covered in potentially hazardous chemicals that could be released to air through incineration.

This type of development would be a good early example of how to reset industry thinking to solve two problems at once: more efficient supply chains around healthcare needs, while at the same time substantially reducing waste and the environmental impact of PPE production and disposal.

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