St. Joe’s London one of first to use eco-friendly masks
March 15, 2023
LONDON, Ont. – When the COVID-19 pandemic swept in, so did a global surge of microplastic waste with burgeoning use of medical masks. In fact, face mask litter is considered one of the most damaging fallouts of the pandemic worldwide.
Wanting to address this environmental toll, St. Joseph’s Health Care London became the first hospital in Ontario to switch to a medical mask that protects more than staff, physicians, patients and visitors. It’s also safe for the planet.
The new green alternative mask is medical grade and certified while also biodegradable and compostable. Made from plant-based biopolymers from renewable crop resources, the mask not only meets the gold standard for protection, but it also boasts an impressive carbon offset – producing 65 percent less CO2e emissions over its life cycle than a synthetic mask.
“As a long-time leader in environmental stewardship, St. Joseph’s is always seeking solutions and making changes to reduce our impact on the environment,” says Lori Higgs, vice president Clinical Support and chief financial officer at St. Joseph’s. “We were pleased to lead the way in the province with a switch to a green mask that is a healthy solution for the environment and our care teams.”
The environmentally friendly mask is the VIRALOC eco mask produced by Precision ADM Medical, based in Winnipeg, MB. The selling feature for St. Joseph’s was an opportunity to significantly reduce consumption of single-use plastics without compromising on breathability, filtration or splash resistance.
Across the organization, about 1.5 million masks are used per year at the current consumption rate – an increase of more than 800 per cent since the pandemic began. The VIRALOC eco mask is an ASTM F2100 Level 3 procedural mask and is now available to all those working and training at St. Joseph’s, as well as patients, visitors and volunteers.
“We were pleased to find a mask that not only protects all those who work or receive care at St. Joseph’s, but also benefits the environment,” says Toby O’Hara, general manager of Healthcare Materials Management Services, which consolidates purchasing for St. Joseph’s and the region’s hospitals.
St. Joseph’s followed the lead of major hospitals in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in adopting the mask. Since St. Joseph’s shared the news, two dozen major hospitals or hospital systems, several retirements homes and other organizations in Ontario were inspired to follow suit.
“We were very excited to work with St. Joseph’s Health Care London as the first Ontario hospital to fully integrate VIRALOC eco as a sustainable alternative,” says Kyle Fiolka, chief innovation officer with PADM Group. “Our commitment is to create eco-conscious products to support the health and wellness of all individuals and our planet.”