Pentatonic develops “world’s first” fully compostable face mask

pentatonic develops “world’s first” fully compostable face mask

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The Masuku Daily is a single use mask made from bio-based materials which its makers say can decompose naturally in just eight weeks.
Design and technology consultancy Pentatonic has developed the “world’s first” high-performance, fully compostable face mask.

Face masks have become a huge part of life since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but single-use options have a marked effect on the environment. According to Pentatonic, the world disposes of three million face masks every minute – and each will take up to 450 years to decompose.

The Masuku Daily is an environmentally friendly alternative and has been designed by the company alongside fashion industry expert Natalia Vodianova.

pentatonic develops “world’s first” fully compostable face mask

Like regular single use face masks, the Masuku masks are available in “surgical” and “flat fold” styles. However, the company says “not a single component is made from the same material as other single use masks”.

“Each component has been re-engineered and selected for specific performance criteria and can be broken down naturally, for example metabolised by bacteria,” says Pentatonic CEO Johann Boedecker.

Every mask is made from a proprietary nano-fibre filtration fabric, developed over the last four years at the company’s AirLab factory in Rotherham, England.

pentatonic develops “world’s first” fully compostable face mask

The fabric featured in the mask has been developed using a new electrospinning process, Pentatonic explains. In this process, bio-based polymers are spun into nano-fibres using a high electric voltage.

This method of creating fibres is claimed to be up to 15 times lighter than conventional melt-blown membranes, resulting in a more comfortable fit around the face.

Additionally, the company says it provides a “significant upgrade” on filtration efficiency – the technology works similarly to how a spiderweb catches particles, with fibres disperse with “extreme precision” for maximum performance.

The masks are each finished with similarly decomposable elements which also prioritise comfort. Orange earloops on both masks are made from 100% natural rubber, weaved with biodegradable yarn to ensure a good fit no matter the head size. Meanwhile the nose clip is a paper-coated iron wire.

pentatonic develops “world’s first” fully compostable face mask

Since the coronavirus pandemic broke out worldwide in 2020, designers have been eager to explore how masks can be reinvented.

Early on in the pandemic, big companies like Apple and Mercedes-Benz repurposed equipment to produce masks that could be used for different applications.

As the pandemic progressed, even more inventive options were pursued. A selection of “smart” face masks were developed by the likes of LG and AirPop, offering features like app connectivity to track what pollutants were encountered by the wearer.

Elsewhere, Benjamin Hubert was brought onboard to design a mask for lifestyle brand Never Go Alone, while US-based Sum Studio developed a “growable” mask made from bacterial cellulose.

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