Fourth Element are no strangers to using recycled waste to produce high-quality products – look at their current Ocean Positive line of clothing using plastic bottles, coffee grounds and Ghost Fishing nets – and now they have upped the ante by using recycled PPE to make cave and wreck diving tools.
The Cornish innovators have partnered with recycling and repurposing experts Waterhaul to ‘retask the mask’ – face masks and other items of PPE from hospitals are melted down into blocks, sterilising the material, which Fourth Element then purchases, recycles and transforms.
These cave and wreck line markers are the first of what Fourth Element hopes will be many products using this waste material to give it a new life beyond protecting the lives of our frontline healthcare workers. Each marker re-uses the equivalent of two disposable masks.
The end product is completely safe. The PPE is heat treated by the hospital – the plastic is heated to high temperatures multiple times; first to make the blocks within the recycling process, and also while injection moulding the parts.
In the UK alone, 58 million single-use plastic face masks are thrown away every day, littering landfills and polluting the environment. Globally, we use 129 billion per month – that’s enough to wrap around the world 550 times! Over the last 12 months, a recorded 1.5 billion have entered the ocean, disrupting our ecosystem and endangering marine life across the globe. And that’s just what has been recorded.
These lines markers are made from recycled PPE, each one saving two masks from entering landfill or our oceans. Part of Fourth Element’s Zero Waste and Zero Plastic initiatives; to re-purpose as much plastic as possible and find new uses for products at the end of their lives.
“We believe that this is the way,” said Jim Standing, co-founder of Fourth Element. “We are all going to have to tackle the challenges of a post-COVID world and one of these will be how we deal with the waste we have created as part of keeping ourselves and, in particular, our frontline workers protected. We intend to play our part.”
The Cave Arrows and Cave Cookies are priced at £6 for a pack of five, or £1.20 each. You can also get a refill pack of 100 arrows or cookies, along with a roll-up trash-collecting bag, for £120.