An Irish start-up has developed a more sustainable alternative to traditional personal protective equipment (PPE) in a bid to help cut carbon emissions from healthcare.
The “green” PPE apron from HaPPE Earth is made from a proprietary resin that is composed of compostable bioplastics. It matches the safety parameters of current, medical Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) single-use aprons, is CE approved and suitable for use in healthcare.
It also produces lower levels of carbon emissions in its manufacture. Overall, the apron has a carbon footprint 75 per cent lower than a standard PPE apron, with no waste in the manufacturing process and using sustainable energy sources for production. Because it is compostable, it places less burden on the non-clinical waste services of hospitals.
Developed by Irish entrepreneurs Dr Mary O’ Riordan and Lisa O’Riordan, the HaPPE Apron is being piloted at South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital (SIVUH) in Cork, and a second trial is due to begin at Tallaght University Hospital in Dublin.
“To see our compostable apron being used by frontline staff in the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital and to get such support from the HIHI team was invaluable to us. It is through collaboration like this that we bring practical solutions to our health system,” the co-founders said. “We want to make an impact on sustainability within healthcare – the HIHI programme is extremely well organised and supportive, we were delighted to be part of it”.
The product was one of 11 winners of the Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) Open Call 2022, leading to the pilot assessment in Cork. Some 7,000 HaPPE Aprons were tested for wearability, acceptability, sustainability and durability, across the elective orthopaedic ward, the orthopaedic rehab ward and across the hospital catering and kitchen services.
“Worldwide, the healthcare sector is responsible for as much as 4.6 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions. If Ireland is to make an impact, we need to look at innovative products that reduce carbon emissions while maintaining safety,” said Dr Tanya Mulcahy, director of Health Innovation Hub Ireland. “The HaPPE apron is safe, equivalent to current PPE and is addressing sustainability – it’s also Irish. I am delighted that HIHI and SIVUH have demonstrated that this is a viable option for Irish and global healthcare.”