An eco-friendly Limerick company is offering plastic-free PPE to Irish businesses preparing for post-lockdown work arrangements.
Ecostraws.ie believes the EcoShield visor will help companies protect their staff without increasing plastic pollution.
The visors are compostable and recyclable.
They are made from paper board and cellulose from wood pulp.
Ecostraws.ie is distributing the product in the Irish market as part of a collaboration with UK companies Transcend Packaging and Reelbrands and international campaign group A Plastic Planet.
Co-founder of ecostraws.ie Brian O’Callaghan said the first shipment of the visors has arrived in Ireland and the company has already fielded calls from many interested companies.
“The colossal requirement for millions of pieces of PPE has been on news headlines across the world for a number of months now,” said Mr O’Callaghan.
“PPE is saving lives; it’s an essential requirement for many businesses, however as it’s mostly single-use plastic, we wanted to play our role in developing an alternative, that would provide the safety required yet continue to protect the planet.”
He added: “In a time when we’ve all hugely appreciated the nature on our doorstep, we can’t regress to behaviours of old.
“Our new plastic-free EcoShield gives companies choice and a solution for continuing to honour their plastic reduction commitments.”
Established in 2018, the company originally focused on supplying environmentally friendly straws, and subsequently expanded into distributing plastic-free cups, bottles and boxes.
It has pivoted and diversified in response to the pandemic to sourcing new green products.
Fellow co-founder Sarah Keyes said: “As we unlock the Irish economy and businesses return to a new normal where employees and customers’ safety is paramount, demand for PPE is set to rise.
“We’ve all already seen images of discarded plastic masks and gloves strewn across our countryside, and our hope is that because the plastic-free EcoShields are comparable in price to their plastic equivalent, they will be specified by many more companies as a way of keeping their employees safe whilst also meeting their environmental responsibilities.”
Science, wildlife and environmental broadcaster Liz Bonnin insisted PPE did not have to be made from fossil fuels.
“PPE is vital for the protection of health care workers and to reduce the transmission of the virus,” she said.
“But it doesn’t have to be made from fossil fuels.
“Covid-19 will be part of our lives for some time, and as lockdown rules ease, demand for PPE is only going to increase.
“Considering the plastic pollution crisis we are still battling, and the lessons we are learning from this pandemic about the need to work with nature instead of against it, plastic free PPE can help to protect us without further damaging the planet.”