In Finland, LUT University has launched the BIOPROT project to develop face masks that are renewable, biodegradable, and antimicrobial. The goal is to protect humans from COVID-19 while also reducing the mountain of waste generated by the surge in demand for personal protective equipment created by the pandemic.
The ambitious project aims to produce enough biodegradable masks to displace up to a billion conventional masks per year. “Biobased, sustainable materials are very much in demand in the market now. Equally important is self-sufficiency: The Covid crisis has revealed that we are still vulnerable in that regard,” Katri Laatikainen, Academy researcher at LUT University and LAB University of Applied Sciences, says in a press statement.
Over a dozen organizations are participating in the project. Natural Resources Institute Finland and University of Jyväskylä have developed a biobased antiviral, while VTT is working on biobased materials for the mask. “The goal is to boost the performance level of biobased mask materials to a more professional level,” says VTT researcher.
The project has received €5.2 million (US$5.9 million), much of which was contributed by Business Finland, a government organization for innovation funding.