Marine plastic pollution was turned into 50,000 reusable pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line healthcare workers.
The environmental impact of PPE on the environment is significant and as lockdown measures are reduced it will continue to worsen.
Heroes, the charity founded by and for NHS workers has partnered with Parley for the Oceans to combine marine debris from the Dominic Republic with a volunteer network to produce sustainable personal protective visors.
The raw materials were intercepted in the Dominican Republic where they were then made into plastic sheets before being cut into shape and paired with a 3D printed headband.
The visors are designed to be completely reusable, providing indefinite protection.
Dr Dominic Pimenta, co-Founder of Heroes said: ‘My personal experience during shifts in intensive care was that eyewear was a surprising area of shortage and I soon realised that throwing away single-use items meant we had even less available, and equally that we were creating a shocking amount of waste.
‘I used one of the visors we’ve created with Parley throughout my shifts in the COVID ICU for six weeks with it showing no signs of wearing out, and I think this will be a breath of fresh air to NHS staff.
‘From the beginning of the pandemic Heroes has believed that the only sustainable means to provide PPE given global demand is to ensure all innovative PPE we fund is reusable. Not only is this a vital practical consideration to maximise supply and protection for healthcare workers, but it is also critical for the environment.
‘With the pandemic and associated need for PPE both within the healthcare system and beyond going to be with us for some time yet, the environmental impact is worrying and something we must address.
‘With a second wave on the horizon, we urgently need sustainable, reusable and safe PPE that protects both healthcare workers and the environment.’