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Cotton and Surgical Masks—What Ecological Factors Are Relevant for Their Sustainability?

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Technology and Society Laboratory, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), CH-9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland
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Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles Laboratory, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), CH-9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland
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Particles-Biology Interactions Laboratory, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), CH-9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10245; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410245
Received: 15 October 2020 / Revised: 2 December 2020 / Accepted: 4 December 2020 / Published: 8 December 2020
With the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing facemasks became common. Many initiatives arose to develop new types of reusable textile masks in order to overcome a shortage of surgical masks for the health care personnel and for the civil society. Having such high demand of facemasks raises the question about what factors define their environmental sustainability. This paper presents a first simplified Life-Cycle-Assessment (LCA) comparing surgical masks and 2-layered cotton masks. The aim of the paper is to identify and understand the relevant ecological factors in order to support decision making on how textile masks could be designed in a more sustainable manner. The results of our simplified LCA show that the cotton masks were performing better than the surgical masks and vice versa depending on the environmental impact that was looked at. It was also found that the lifespan and the weight of the cotton masks are two variables having a great importance for their overall environmental performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: facemask; environmental sustainability; life-cycle-assessment; decision support; sustainable design facemask; environmental sustainability; life-cycle-assessment; decision support; sustainable design
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MDPI and ACS Style

Schmutz, M.; Hischier, R.; Batt, T.; Wick, P.; Nowack, B.; Wäger, P.; Som, C. Cotton and Surgical Masks—What Ecological Factors Are Relevant for Their Sustainability? Sustainability 2020, 12, 10245. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410245

AMA Style

Schmutz M, Hischier R, Batt T, Wick P, Nowack B, Wäger P, Som C. Cotton and Surgical Masks—What Ecological Factors Are Relevant for Their Sustainability? Sustainability. 2020; 12(24):10245. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410245

Chicago/Turabian Style

Schmutz, Mélanie, Roland Hischier, Till Batt, Peter Wick, Bernd Nowack, Patrick Wäger, and Claudia Som. 2020. "Cotton and Surgical Masks—What Ecological Factors Are Relevant for Their Sustainability?" Sustainability 12, no. 24: 10245. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410245

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