French company develops hemp face masks as an alternative to single-use plastic face masks

French company Geochanvre have created a face mask made primarily from hemp, in an attempt to reduce plastic waste during the coronavirus pandemic from single-use protective gear that is polluting the oceans.

In what has been touted by the French industrial company as “the first ecological and ethical consumer mask”, the biocompostable mask is composed of a 100% vegetable filtering felt in natural French hemp fibres.

The single-use mask features filtering felt hemp without glue, additives or treatment. It is also lined with a dark protective veil in compostable cornstarch. The elastic band used to fix the mask around the head is also recyclable.

As a producer of vegetable felt, Geochanvre saw that their compostable material could also be used as a safe filter for masks and so minimising the need for single-use protective gear which is made from plastics including polypropylene, polythene and vinyl.

Frédéric Roure, founding president of Geochanvre, said: “This is a natural product and will go back into the soil.”

Worldwide, an estimated 129 billion disposable face masks and 65 billion gloves are used every month, according to a study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Disposable plastic masks that end up in the oceans could take up to 450 years to decompose, according to campaign group Waste Free Oceans.

Biodegradable and compostable face masks, made from materials such as hemp or wood fibres, are being made or developed around the world.

More than 1.5 million hemp masks manufactured by Geochanvre have been bought by customers, mostly from Europe and Canada, since March.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

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