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Canadian forest innovation centre develops biodegradable face mask

FPInnovations says the product is ready to go into production

FPInnovations has announced it’s developed a fully biodegradable face mask, made using forest fibres and biodegradable plastic.

The Pointe-Claire, Que.-headquartered research and development centre announced on Feb. 26 that the product, the result of a months-long, $3.3-million applied research initiative funded by Natural Resources Canada, is now ready for commercialization.

“The development of a biodegradable mask clearly shows that stimulating the bioeconomy can contribute to a cleaner environment in Canada,” Stéphane Renou, FPInnovations’ president and CEO, said in a news release.

“The outstanding collective scientific and technological expertise of the forest sector has been key to the success and speed of this project, and is proof that, together, we are capable of bringing eco-friendly bio-sourced products through the pipeline from research to market within just months!”

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The non-medical masks were developed in collaboration with industry partners using a pilot-scale paper machine. Elastic ear loops and nose pieces incorporated into the design are also biodegradable.

According to FPInnovations, after being assessed by external labs according to international norms, the mask “would set the standard for non-medical masks in terms of filtration, breathability, and biodegradability.”

It also meets filtration efficiency and breathability norms required for procedure masks, according to technical standards set out by the global firm ASTM International.

FPInnovations said the mask components can be readily assembled on existing commercial mask-converting machines.

“Biodegradable masks made from Canada’s sustainably managed forests: what a great example of the ingenuity of Canada’s forest sector,” Seamus O’Reagan, Canada’s natural resources minister, said in the release. “Keeping Canadians safe, and protecting our environment.”

Last September, FPInnovations revealed it had developed a cellulosic filter, made from a blend of hardwood and softwood fibres, for use as the middle layer in three-layer, single-use masks.