Personal protective equipment and respiratory protection are necessary and required in many industries, but world production was already too low before the pandemic skyrocketed demand.
The production of respirators requires expensive machines that relatively few manufacturers have currently invested in. A company that has recently invested in such textile machines is Sfactor in Tønsberg, which since November has produced medically classified respirators with only Norwegian input factors – down to the plastic pellets, filters and nosebands.
Great lack of respiratory protection worldwide
-The pandemic has seriously lifted the serious underproduction of all types of respiratory protection into the public agenda. The demand has also made the need precarious in other industries where industries use respiratory protection in everyday life, such as in industry and agriculture, says Robert Larsen in Sfactor.
We became aware of the large supply shortage of respiratory protection, exacerbated by the pandemic, and want to offer first and foremost the Norwegian, but also the European market, face masks of the very highest quality. We are now well underway with the production, and ready to accept orders!
There have been several cases of unscrupulous players offering products that do not maintain the quality needed to provide good protection against pollution and airborne sources of infection. For us, quality and control at all stages of the value chain, in addition to the necessary certifications, are a prerequisite for being able to offer the market the best in respiratory protection, Larsen continues.
The distance between supply and demand has been known for a long time, but the incentive to do something about it has been lacking until recently. As more production machines come into place, global production will also meet the real global need for 129 billion mouthpieces (UN).
-Now we must first solve the need during the pandemic. But the need for respiratory protection does not disappear with the corona, and will only increase in the coming decades. Then it is especially important to have large enough capacity to produce this type of product domestically, says Larsen.
The waste can potentially create problems
Despite the fact that the world’s population is now being asked to wear face masks, relatively little information has been given on how to get rid of them afterwards, write researchers at Portsmouth University in an article in the academic online journal The Conversation. Researchers fear an environmental catastrophe if we are not given better advice on how to get rid of sanitary napkins properly.
The main ingredient in the sanitary napkins – both the sanitary napkins most of us use and the respiratory protection used by healthcare professionals and others – is the plastic type polypropylene, which must be melted to achieve a tight and protective membrane. The UN estimates that face masks were sold for NOK 1,660 billion in 2020 – compared with NOK 8 billion the year before.
This is a challenge Sfactor takes seriously, and we will be a driving force and sparring partner for the handling. Larsen’s encouragement so far is to wear reusable masks as far as the situation allows, and as long as this is in line with current recommendations from the authorities.