My inspiration comes from the idea of a circular economy of materials. This is when most of the materials in a system stay in the system,and very few new materials have to be introduced.
What it does
I enabled a circular economy for face shields in the healthcare setting by substituting traditional materials with more recyclable ones. The proposed materials allow for the Face shields to be made out of completely recycled materials, and they are also fully recyclable. This is complemented by the recycling of nitrile gloves into recycling bins for the face shields in healthcare settings which participate in the proposed circular economy.
How I built it
I decided on using PET for the shield as recycled PET is widely available from plastic bottles (this also diverts plastic bottles from ending up in landfills). It also shares many qualities with available face shields. I decided on HDPE for the crown of the face shield as it's the most recycled plastic, and it's very sanitary, safe, cheap, and easy to work with. Recycling bins, along with various other useful furnishings can be made with composite material from recycled nitrile gloves.
Challenges I ran into
It was hard for me to figure out what to do with the gloves as I originally wanted to substitute the material like I did with the face shields. Unfortunately medical gloves need to have very specific properties associated with the materials they come in (nitrile, latex, pvc, etc...) and there don't seem to be sustainable alternatives to the available materials with the right properties.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I'm glad that I could bring the products made from the nitrile gloves back into the equation as complementary products. The glove recycling process enables them to be made into various other things such as lawn chairs, freebees, and shelving so hospitals don't have to be the only ones using the resulting products.
What I learned
I learned that pointless disposal is ubiquitous. It seems prevalent throughout every industry especially the medical one. I learned about all of the other things that hospitals throw out which don't have to go to waste but don't have adequate recycling support. Only 15% of hospital waste is considered hazardous, and the rest could be dealt with mush more sustainably.
What's next for Sustainable Healthcare Supply
I looked into medical gowns, and face masks a little. These are both things that are already made of very recyclable material, and are yet more things that don't have adequate support for recycling.