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UCLan and Preston firm collaborate to create environmentally friendly PPE

Posted on - 17th March, 2021 - 10:57am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Preston News, UCLan
Richard Taylor, CEO and founder of PPECO

Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are helping a small independent business to bring one of the first fully biodegradable PPE face visors to the market.

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They hope they will be able to achieve this in less than six months.

PPECO, a micro-business based in Preston and headed up by industrial product designer Richard Taylor, has teamed up with the Allied Health Research Unit, the Innovation Clinic and the MedTech Solutions Group at UCLan to develop the entirely plastic-free, fully recyclable and fully bio-degradable face visor that can be used in the health sector, as well as care homes, hospitality and retail.

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PPE waste has become a mounting issue that has continued to worsen throughout the pandemic.

In England alone 2.3 billion items of single use PPE were distributed to health and social care services between February and July 2020, the same amount distributed throughout the whole of 2019.

If normal patterns of waste disposal continue, it is expected that 75 per cent of PPE waste could end up polluting the oceans or in landfill.

The visor is designed with a paper-based headband and frame, whilst the optic uses a cellulose acetate which is a wood-pulp based material, making it not only environmentally friendly but also fog resistant.

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It can also be cleaned with appropriate materials.

Richard came up with the idea for the visor in early lockdown last year after seeing his GP wife struggle to access the correct PPE.

After securing an Innovate UK grant in June 2020 to turn his idea into reality, Richard and his team contacted UCLan to help with development.

Led by Professor Jim Richards, the UCLan Allied Health Research Unit has tested and developed the product in a number of different ways including assessing structural integrity, safety, protection and usability, which was supported through UCLan’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funded Innovation Clinic.

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PPECO CEO and founder Richard said: “Getting a new product from concept through to market can normally take around 18 to 24 months but the PPECO FaceVisor has achieved this in just six months.

“Access to the academic expertise at UCLan has helped us in a number of different ways and has made a huge difference, especially as we are a small team trying to complete an ambitious task in a short space of time.”

The Allied Health Research Unit has also been exploring the thoughts and opinions of individuals who need to wear visors daily, including key workers such as nurses and allied health professionals.

More than 400 units have been distributed to be tested and the feedback will be used to help guide future product developments.

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The product has received its CE certification, meaning it conforms with all the required health, safety, and environmental protection standards to be sold within the European Economic Area.

The PPECO FaceVisor has already been used within several NHS Trusts, as well as other industries such as manufacturing, education and retail.

Another key focus is on humanitarian aid and health care industries in developing countries.

The PPECO FaceVisor is now available to buy at https://www.ppeco.tech

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