Fixing the system – manufacturing reusable PPE


Richard Lamb, managing director, Anze, provides insight as to how reusable PPE is developed, and how it can help the NHS achieve sustainability goals. 

What a difference a year makes. Just over 12 months ago, we were in the early grips of a pandemic which has sadly cost thousands of lives. For those tasked with handling the threat of COVID, it was a case of ‘all hands on deck’ to source enough PPE for hospitals, GP practices and care homes. Back then, the idea of having Personal Protective Equipment which is also re-usable was not high on the agenda.

But more than a year on, we can take a step back and fully evaluate the situation. The throwaway culture is expensive and leads to a mountain of clinical waste. I believe it’s now time to fix the system and reap the rewards of re-usable PPE – both for the NHS purse strings, its people and the planet. 

My company, Anze, pioneered the manufacture of reusable medical products. We make reusable gowns for doctors, nurses and patients. That’s alongside drapes and scrub suits. 

Made to protect

The gowns are made using high density, fluid repellent, microfibre polyester fabric on the front panel and sleeves. On the back panel there is a lightweight microfibre. 

The ‘high risk’ surgical gowns are manufactured using a combination of breathable 3-ply laminate on the front and sleeves, with a microfibre polyester fabric on the back panel. This gives a high level of protection from fluids and bacteria. The side seams are positioned towards the back of the gown to provide a larger area of protection. All the vital seams are taped to increase that level of safety. 

It’s essential that the material is breathable, which makes it very comfortable for the front-line workers who are having to wear these items on a regular basis. Feedback from staff at one hospital trust highlighted the fact that the gowns are not restrictive in any way and help keep them cool.

The hospital trust (one of a number which use our products) told me that the gowns were initially used in the Intensive Care Unit, but following updated guidance they were issued across all ward areas with COVID positive patients or COVID contacts. It meant demand increased substantially. 

Another advantage is that staff have found that the gowns are easy to put on and take off, with press stud fastening and side fasten ties at the waist. There are also colour coded neck bands for easy identification of the different sizes. 

Quality Checked

As a leading manufacturer of these specialist items, I was directly involved in drawing up the standards now adopted Europe-wide, to ensure the right quality of product. 

All the components used in the manufacturing process are designed to be wash-resistant for a minimum of 75 cycles. They can also be steam sterilised for use in operating theatres. Each item has a traceability label so it is clear how many times it has been used. At the end of its life it can even be recycled and made into a new product.

Anze sells many of these gowns to large commercial laundries, which rent them out to the NHS. These laundries wash them after each use and then return them. Research by the Textiles Services Association, which represents the laundries, shows that wider take-up of re-usable PPE could avoid 45 million tonnes of clinical waste a year and save the NHS millions of pounds.

The whole manufacturing process involves a low carbon footprint too, with a largely UK-based supply chain. I’m convinced that this is a crucial factor which will have to be considered when procurement decisions are made in the future. 

We are also working with other like-minded organisations to develop this tried and tested green solution for other products and projects. Our medical garments are used extensively across Europe and the UK and there is certainly the appetite to harness increased environmental benefits from further research and development. 

One recent news report about PPE had the headline: ‘Saving lives is having a harmful impact on the planet.’ With re-usable PPE, that doesn’t need to be the case. Instead, here is an alternative long-term, cost effective and sustainable solution for the entire healthcare sector.

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Read More:Fixing the system – manufacturing reusable PPE

Fixing the system – manufacturing reusable PPE


Richard Lamb, managing director, Anze, provides insight as to how reusable PPE is developed, and how it can help the NHS achieve sustainability goals. 

What a difference a year makes. Just over 12 months ago, we were in the early grips of a pandemic which has sadly cost thousands of lives. For those tasked with handling the threat of COVID, it was a case of ‘all hands on deck’ to source enough PPE for hospitals, GP practices and care homes. Back then, the idea of having Personal Protective Equipment which is also re-usable was not high on the agenda.

But more than a year on, we can take a step back and fully evaluate the situation. The throwaway culture is expensive and leads to a mountain of clinical waste. I believe it’s now time to fix the system and reap the rewards of re-usable PPE – both for the NHS purse strings, its people and the planet. 

My company, Anze, pioneered the manufacture of reusable medical products. We make reusable gowns for doctors, nurses and patients. That’s alongside drapes and scrub suits. 

Made to protect

The gowns are made using high density, fluid repellent, microfibre polyester fabric on the front panel and sleeves. On the back panel there is a lightweight microfibre. 

The ‘high risk’ surgical gowns are manufactured using a combination of breathable 3-ply laminate on the front and sleeves, with a microfibre polyester fabric on the back panel. This gives a high level of protection from fluids and bacteria. The side seams are positioned towards the back of the gown to provide a larger area of protection. All the vital seams are taped to increase that level of safety. 

It’s essential that the material is breathable, which makes it very comfortable for the front-line workers who are having to wear these items on a regular basis. Feedback from staff at one hospital trust highlighted the fact that the gowns are not restrictive in any way and help keep them cool.

The hospital trust (one of a number which use our products) told me that the gowns were initially used in the Intensive Care Unit, but following updated guidance they were issued across all ward areas with COVID positive patients or COVID contacts. It meant demand increased substantially. 

Another advantage is that staff have found that the gowns are easy to put on and take off, with press stud fastening and side fasten ties at the waist. There are also colour coded neck bands for easy identification of the different sizes. 

Quality Checked

As a leading manufacturer of these specialist items, I was directly involved in drawing up the standards now adopted Europe-wide, to ensure the right quality of product. 

All the components used in the manufacturing process are designed to be wash-resistant for a minimum of 75 cycles. They can also be steam sterilised for use in operating theatres. Each item has a traceability label so it is clear how many times it has been used. At the end of its life it can even be recycled and made into a new product.

Anze sells many of these gowns to large commercial laundries, which rent them out to the NHS. These laundries wash them after each use and then return them. Research by the Textiles Services Association, which represents the laundries, shows that wider take-up of re-usable PPE could avoid 45 million tonnes of clinical waste a year and save the NHS millions of pounds.

The whole manufacturing process involves a low carbon footprint too, with a largely UK-based supply chain. I’m convinced that this is a crucial factor which will have to be considered when procurement decisions are made in the future. 

We are also working with other like-minded organisations to develop this tried and tested green solution for other products and projects. Our medical garments are used extensively across Europe and the UK and there is certainly the appetite to harness increased environmental benefits from further research and development. 

One recent news report about PPE had the headline: ‘Saving lives is having a harmful impact on the planet.’ With re-usable PPE, that doesn’t need to be the case. Instead, here is an alternative long-term, cost effective and sustainable solution for the entire healthcare sector.

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