Working in collaborative to assess greenhouse gas emissions

Riverside Medical Packaging started manufacturing Face Shields to supply the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Riverside Medical Packaging

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the local NHS Trust (University Hospitals of Derby and Burton) needed PPE such as Face Shields. Riverside Medical Packaging aimed to meet the regulations in place at the time, while ensuring a low carbon dioxide emission.

Why did they engage with DE-Carbonise

The University of Derby and Riverside Medical Packaging worked together in assessing the current greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) when using Disposhield (the single-use Face Shield developed by the SME), and possible reusable Face Shields.  

Various reusable Face Shields were designed, and prototypes manufactured using 3D printing. Riverside Medical Packaging obtained a report on the challenges in the design and development of reusable Face Shields for mass manufacture and the GHG emissions involved during the various cleaning/disinfection stages. 

About 5000 single-use Face Shields were used by Royal Derby Hospital and thrown away daily. There was a reduction in the world’s supply and an increase in the quantity of plastic being incinerated at elevated temperatures. The hospital was looking to build a local supply chain and find alternative solutions to single-use Face Shields. The whole Derbyshire community was trying to help the hospitals with homemade Face Shields. However, they did not meet the regulations (EU PPE Regulation 2016/425 and BS EN 166:2002/167:2001/168:2001) for CE Marking and hence may not provide the right protection against the virus.  

There were issues around the one-size Face Shield for a wide range of users. Riverside Medical also identified specific sections of the CE marking process that their single-use Face Shield failed. There was a need to meet the demand for face shields while also ensuring the regulations were met.

What has been the impact of working with DE-Carbonise?

The University of Derby developed testing protocols for such Face shields, separate from the DE-Carbonise project. Subsequently, the University worked with Riverside Medical Packaging to design and develop a reusable Face Shield and compared the greenhouse gas emission concerning the use of single-use Face Shields through the DE-Carbonise project.   

CAD Software such as Solidworks was used to design various models to be 3D printed as demonstrators. The design was adapted for mass manufacturing via injection moulding, where experts from Riverside Medical Packagingprovided their insights. A cradle-to-grave method (ISO 14040:2006) was used for the life cycle analysis of the single-use and reusable Face Shields.  

In the case of the reusable Face Shields, a critical number of reuses was calculated concerning the same number of single-use Face Shields being used and different cleaning strategies were compared. Lastly, identified tests (from CE Marking requirements) were performed on the newly developed reusable Face Shield. 

Different designs were developed concerning the regulations and requirements for injection moulding.

The final design accommodated easy assembly, cleaning, and disassembly. Another feature in the reusable Face Shield was the adjustability section which would meet the one-size-fits-all concept. The selected design was an elastic band with a ‘toggle’ which would not interfere with the wearer’s hair and was easily adjustable, accommodating head accessories.

The critical number of uses was identified as the minimum number of reuses for the reusable Face Shield to result in less GHG emission as compared to a number of single-use Face Shields being used. Figure 29 identifies the respective critical number of uses for different scenarios varying the cleaning processes, the number of parts being reused and the site of cleaning.

The testing concerning CE marking mostly agreed with the requirements for the temporary requirements for medical use against COVID 19. However, when testing was performed at extreme conditions, the reusable Face Shield would not pass.

Next Steps

Develop other sustainability projects with the NHS and Riverside Medical Packaging Ltd. Access research grants to collaborate on resolving knowledge gaps relating to cleaning and re-use. 

Quote from the Client

This project resulted in the following benefits:   


About DE-Carbonise

DE-Carbonise is a three year collaboration between the University of Derby, Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council, which started in November 2019. The collaboration is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and follows on from the successful D2 Energy Efficiency/Low Carbon project.

Logo's for European Union Regional Development Fun, Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council and Midlands Engine.

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