Fourth Element has today announced that something positive is being created from used PPE items and face masks. Cave diving safety markers!
As much as possible, Fourth Element embraces two principles; Zero Waste and Zero Plastic. They achieve this by re-purposing as much plastic as possible, whilst finding new uses for products at the end of their lives. The company has therefore carved out an environmental niche by producing "grave to cradle" 'Ocean Positive' products for scuba divers.
It is no surprise that the award-winning manufacturer has partnered with Waterhaul, a social enterprise based in Cornwall. Waterhaul specialises in intercepting plastic waste, such as ghost fishing nets, from our oceans and transforming it into high-quality, functional products. (We reviewed their sunglasses in April 2019).
It's good to see PPE waste being given a new life and purpose, beyond protecting frontline staff. Rosemary E Lunn
Retask the Mask
Thousands of millions of tons of PPE have been used during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the UK alone, 58 million single-use plastic face masks are thrown away every day, littering landfills and the environment. Many of these masks are destroyed. Waterhaul has therefore looked at how best they can 'retask the mask' and turn this valuable single-use plastic into something useful.
The solution is to melt face masks and other items of PPE from hospitals down into blocks and sterilise the material. Fourth Element then uses this material, and gives it a new life and purpose, beyond protecting the lives of UK frontline healthcare workers.
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 whilst injection moulding the parts.
Each marker re-uses the equivalent of two disposable masks. Fourth Element
It is thought that these cave diving line markers are going to be first of many products that Fourth Element is going to produce using this radical new material. It is good to see waste being given a new direction, and transformed into tools that we can use whilst pursing our underwater adventures.
What makes this OceanPositive?
Globally, we are using 129 billion single-use plastic face masks 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 landfills or our oceans.
This is the way. Environmentally. And out of a cave. Jim Standing, Fourth Element
“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.”
Michael Thomas, a respected TDI cave diving educator, has already used these line markers in a cave class.
"It is nice to use PPE recycled material line arrows underground. After spending 18 months supporting COVID-19 doctors on the streets, and seeing just how much PPE is disposed of every day, every small thing helps".
Nice to use PPE recycled materials underground. After seeing just how much PPE is disposed of every day, every small thing helps. Michael Thomas, cave educator and explorer
- Made with recycled PPE from hospitals
- Mixed recycled plastics - Polypropylene and Polythene
- Reduces plastic waste entering the environment
- Embossed fourth element and Waterhaul logos
- Standard line marker function
- One size, 3mm / 0.11' thick plastic
- Made in the UK
- Colour: Blue
- 100 Cookies / Line Arrows comes in a reusable debris bag