“With this pandemic, if we all buy masks made of synthetic fiber, they will pile up in dumpsites because they take so long to decompose,” Philippine Fibre agency head Kennedy Costales tells India Times.
Extracted from abaca, a relative of the banana tree, the fiber is as durable as polyester and breaks down within two months. According to Grand View Research, disposable face mask sales have increased by a factor or 200 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Philippine Department of Science and Technology has shown abaca paper to be more water resistant than the ubiquitous N-95 mask.
“Abaca fiber is rapidly gaining popularity as governments and manufacturers all around the world scamper to produce more reusable and safe medical garments for healthcare professionals,” added Future Market Insights senior consultant Pratik Gurnani.