The French manufacturer Geochanvre has begun developing and selling face masks made from hemp. Unlike medical masks, the cannabis derived masks are biodegradable and compostable.
Hemp masks are a way to reduce plastic waste from single-use personal protective gear during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Reuters reported.
“It’s heresy not to ban polyethylene products, materials that are shipped to all corners of the world. Use local agricultural materials,” said Geochanvre’s Frédéric Roure. “This is a natural product and will go back into the soil.”
Hemp fiber bales get compressed and rolled before emerging as flat sheets that are ready to be cut into a standard face mask shape and ready for worldwide distribution.
So far, 1.5 million Geochanvre hemp masks have been purchased since March. Europeans and Canadians are the primary markets that are purchasing the hemp masks.
A majority of disposable, single-use personal protective gear comes from plastics. These masks end up in oceans, lakes and landfills, and could take up to 450 years to decompose.
A study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology said approximately 129 billion face masks and 65 billion latex gloves are being used every month.