HIHI’s completes a climate smart healthcare case study with Irish company HaPPE Earth on the HaPPE apron a fully compostable PPE solution

| Posted on: 3 May, 2023

COVID-19 is still dominant across the world and climate change is to the forefront of the global conversation. Climate smart healthcare solutions are necessary to meet the problem of increased waste. According to WHO, during the COVID-19 pandemic, plastic production more than doubled, raising concerns about both the short-term impacts on fresh water, oceans and air quality, and the longer-term impacts of persistent nano-plastic particles.

The WHO Global analysis of health care waste in the context of COVID-19 report (Feb 2022) outlined the problems we face globally and what recommendations are necessary to combat them.

There is increasing global pressure at an economic, environmental and regulatory level to reduce single use plastics. At present, only 10% of healthcare plastic is recycled. During 2020, Ireland used 70 million and England 900 million PPE aprons.

Billions of PPE aprons are used globally each year. The global market is still 98% Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) usage with very little in the way of credible alternatives. This usage is set to continue year on year causing significant environmental and long term health harms.

As this dialogue continues internationally, 2 Irish female entrepreneurs Dr Mary O’ Riordan and Lisa O’Riordan have developed a novel innovative PPE product, the HaPPE Apron. This compostable PPE apron is suitable for use in healthcare and is CE approved and most importantly, in a world where the effects of climate change are growing, it’s environmentally friendly.

HaPPE Earth came up with a healthcare solution. The HaPPE Apron protects healthcare staff and adheres to water repellence, density and tensile strength of current LDPE single use apron. However, in contrast to the LDPE apron currently being used in healthcare, the HaPPE Apron is entirely compostable. The standard LDPE apron, used across healthcare takes about 50 years to degrade whereas the HaPPE apron composts in just 5 weeks with zero toxic residue. It is made from HaPPE Proprietary Resin composed of an innovative family of compostable materials. Initial calculations on the compostable HaPPE apron sees a reduction of 75% in CO2e (CO2  emissions) when compared to the standard LDPE single use apron.

HIHI conducted pilots in hospitals and nursing home settings in the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital (SIVUH) in Cork and Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) in Dublin and Brindley Manor Nursing Home in Donegal, part of the Orpea group. HIHI supported this project by assisting the project team to engage
with stakeholders, collecting and analysing feedback and usage data and providing project management expertise during the project.

Dr Mary O’Riordan, Co-founder, HaPPE  explained the value of the HIHI pilots. “It was such a fantastic experience for HaPPE Earth to be part of the Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI). To see our compostable apron being used by frontline staff in the Irish Health Service 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 HIHI programme is extremely well organized and supportive. We were delighted to be part of it and would encourage other innovative companies to participate. We give it a big HaPPE highly recommended.”

 Dr Tanya Mulcahy, Director, Health Innovation Hub Ireland applauded this green solution : Worldwide, the healthcare sector is responsible for as much as 4.6 percent 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. 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, we are working on a second pilot in Tallaght University Hospital-wouldn’t it be great to see this product in use across our entire healthcare system”

Image Left to right pictured at SIVUH (Lisa O’Riordan, Co-founder HaPPE Earth, Johnny Brackett HCA, Niamh Allen, HIHI Clinical Liaison and HSE Clinical Nurse Manager, Dr Mary O’Riordan, Co-founder HaPPE Earth, Lily Matthews, Clinical Nurse Manager 1)

Read the full case study here