If disposable means waste, then reusable PPE sounds like an environmental win.
At one hand, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to lockdown and loss of business, whereas, on the other hand, a number of innovative solutions have also developed to keep people, especially practitioners, safe, although the whole world is producing PPEs; still, there is a shortage of supply of them.
Coupled with the rising cost concerns, it has prompted providers and suppliers of PPEs to turn to old-school methods, including the most-notable one – using reusable personal protective equipment.
If we looked at the background when the pandemic took hold, and the prices and the demand for PPE suddenly got high, which later became the most-threatening issue for the whole world. Manufacturers of disposable equipment, which are mostly based in China and India, have started facing their own economic and health issues, and suddenly by early spring, supply lines were cut off.
Resultantly, reusable PPE became the only alternative protection gear.
Dr. Murray Cohen, the retired infectious disease epidemiologist, writes; “Studies show that reusable items are better for the environment, reduce solid waste generation, energy, water use, and cut greenhouse gas emissions, reusable personal protective equipment, scrubs, patient gowns, and other reusable healthcare garments have already proven safe and effective and more sustainable than disposable products.”
Here’s where the phenomena of reusable PPEs gets good!
Most disposable PPE are produced abroad, the United States, being the most robust in the textile sector; this means moving to reusable surgical gowns, isolation barrier gowns, cubicle curtains, and scrub suits could provide more job opportunities and remove dependence on foreign supply chains and the risks attached with international business.
Do you know, the reusable ones can be used 80 to 100 times?
This is the reason why all the textile industries, especially across the US, Uk, India, Pakistan, and some others, are shifting their resources towards producing reusable PPEs.
Not only the production requirements, even the for PPE has also increased; as the pandemic began, but the laundry service also increased from 45,000 to 65,000 scrub pieces per week, which supposedly will increase the scrubs and gowns laundered to double when newly-ordered reusable PPE comes in.
Fortunately, healthcare laundry services are already meeting the standard to disinfect and decontaminate diseases that are more deadly and contagious than COVID-19.
As more hospitals and patients move to reusable PPE to contain the rising shortages, the world will enjoy economic and environmental benefits, and yes, this will not be caught off-guard if we face a second wave of COVID-19.