Every day the media paint a rather gloomy and depressing picture of our society struggling with the fallout of Covid-19. Personally, I rather dread the moment when I turn on my TV for the eight o’clock news.
However, there are also some bright spots to report. DSM – a Dutch champion and a global leader in the area of Nutrition, Materials and sustainability, has recently announced that it will be coordinating the efforts of a consortium of several Dutch firms to produce about a million pieces of FFP2 protective face gear per week for the professionals caring for Corona patients in the hospitals. The consortium, which consists of DSM, Royal Auping and AFPRO will start producing the face masks by the end of April, satisfying about 25% of the total demand for protective face gear in the Netherlands.
Source: DSM website
Since the beginning of the outbreak of the Corona virus in the Netherlands earlier this year, surgical face masks have been the one item that has been in shortest supply, as many of these masks are being produced in China making it challenging to secure sufficient supply in Europe. Also, since the Corona virus appears to spread very quickly through the air, the surgical masks are some of the most vital products required at the front lines of fighting the disease.
Because of the massive shortage that currently exists, many healthcare professionals are being forced to re-use their masks and according to media reporting, many have no masks at all with most acute shortages being experienced in nursing homes and other care facilities. Many of our health care heroes resort to making homemade masks in their own free time, but there can simply be no comparison between these homemade masks and professionally made surgical masks with high-quality filters.
As a result, the initiative of DSM and other Dutch companies couldn’t come soon enough.
What is even more impressive, DSM has decided to lend its resources for the benefit of the Dutch healthcare workers completely for free and will not receive any payments from the Dutch taxpayers for its work and expertise.
The consortium is part of a large scale effort in the Netherlands to locally produce high quality surgical masks. For example, special machines for producing surgical masks have now to still be purchased in China - not always a reliable partner in sourcing the highest quality equipment1. As a result, another Dutch company and a machine manufacturer Durflex based in Elst has recently been prototyping machines that are meant to replace the equipment currently sourced from China2. If those prototypes succeed, our country will be very close to being completely self-sufficient in producing masks. Definitely a step in the right direction. PFZW is a shareholder in Royal DSM through a specially dedicated portfolio that is meant to invest in companies with a positive societal and environmental impact.