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World’s first plastic-free PPE to help protect people and the planet

09 July 2020

The world’s first plastic-free PPE is set to help thousands of workers in the hairdressing industry tackle the spread of Covid-19 while protecting the planet.

Plastic Free PPE - Credit Peter Clark

International campaign group A Plastic Planet and packaging innovators Reelbrands and Tams Packaging have developed lightweight, clear, plastic-free flip face shields to protect staff without adding to plastic pollution.

The innovative card hinge allows the wearer to ‘flip’ up the visor when eating or drinking.

These are now on sale from just £1.50 each at 

CE-certified, made from FSC paper board and PEFC cellulose from wood pulp for a clear, mist-free screen, the Plastic Free REELshield Flip is recyclable and home compostable.

From 4 July, hairdressers and barber shops have been able to open for business whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines.

With more than 40,000 hair and beauty salons in the UK, Plastic Free PPE is set to meet increasing demand while providing much needed equipment which does not pollute the planet for centuries.

Government guidelines for hair salons advises that the wearing of face shields is mandatory rather than gloves and masks.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, images of discarded plastic PPE on beaches or in the marine environment have become increasingly common. 

Some 761 million pieces of PPE, predominantly made from plastic, have been distributed across the UK alone since February 2020.

To help meet demand for protective equipment, more than 1 million Plastic Free PPE REELshield Visors can be produced each week. 

Plastic Free PPE - Credit Peter Clark

Sustainably sourced, the lightweight visors are designed to ensure comfort with an adjustable headband which can accommodate corporate branding.

To ensure a circular process, A Plastic Planet have partnered with Terracycle where staff can use a dedicated bin after use. Terracycle will then collect the visors and recycle or compost them.

The Plastic Free PPE range is the first protective equipment to receive A Plastic Planet’s Plastic Free Certification Mark.

Campaigners believe the move will tackle two of the world’s most pressing issues simultaneously: high demand for protective equipment; and plastic pollution.

Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of A Plastic Planet, said: “No one wants to compromise the safety of employees and the public; but the plastic PPE visors are used once and then exist for centuries, polluting our planet. 

“We wanted to lead by example and show that we can protect ourselves and protect our planet. We can no longer sacrifice nature without consequence. The public back a green recovery from the pandemic because quite simply, we cannot self-isolate or vaccinate against the climate crisis.”

Liz Bonnin, Science, Wildlife and Environmental Broadcaster added: "PPE is vital for the protection of health care workers and to reduce the transmission of the virus. 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."

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