While the European Commission is currently looking at mapping the need for masks in the Member States, first estimates show that no less than 250 million medical masks and 30 to 40 million personal protective equipment (PPE) masks will be needed on a monthly basis in the EU for the battle against the COVID pandemic. .
In its efforts to reach out and share information EDANA is also working together with MedTech, the European trade association for the medical technology industry including diagnostics, medical devices and digital health.
With the help of concerned member companies, we have been, in particular, mapping the capacities of meltblown nonwovens in Europe that are being or can be additionally supplied to masks converters.
Our message, though, to the European Commission on any action impacting international trade is in line with that of MedTech Europe, namely that any export ban or restriction would be potentially counter-productive, since in the short and medium term, whether one likes it or not, the supply of medical face masks and personal protective equipment in the EU heavily depends on third countries, in particular from Asia.
This however does not prevent any participant in the supply chain to contribute to this joint effort of increasing capacity
Building on many years of relationship with the European authorities, EDANA contacted the European Commission early March to express the industry’s genuine efforts and willingness to support the initiative of incentivising European companies involved in the entire supply chain of medical and protective face masks, in a proactive effort to accelerate and increase their production in the EU - all within the limits of a trade association’s remit and applicable competition law
Time was dedicated to analysing the different steps of the supply chain of masks, and reminding officials that depending on mask types they are generally made of 3 to 5 layers of nonwovens, including the ‘meltblown’ nonwoven layer, which is particularly important in providing masks with the necessary filtration performance to protect people (one way or both ways) from infectious agents . EDANA staff emphasised that the global supply-demand balance was reportedly extremely tight, in particular since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in China. Supported by an expert group, EDANA launched a quick survey within the industry to identify available capacity of meltblown nonwoven, including pilot lines, and alternative solutions.
An estimate of the average quantities of meltblown and other layers required in masks was put together, allowing to forecast which capacities would be needed for every additional million masks produced.
As European Commissioner (Internal Market) Breton stated: “… we continue working with industry to increase production and activate alternative ways of manufacturing the equipment we need. The Commission will continue to support this collective industrial effort and work with Member States so that the material reaches those who need it most urgently.”
In parallel to those efforts, the EDANA staff has been in continuous contact with the whole supply chain, from meltblown machine suppliers to nonwoven producers to hygiene and medical devices converters, to further identify capacities and hurdles. This feedback is very valuable in our exchanges with the European Commission on short, medium and long-term plans, and helps answer queries arising from the EURATEX-EDANA-ESF matchmaking initiative.
Together with the ESF, European Safety Federation, potential matchmaking opportunities have been initiated between the suppliers of nonwovens and the manufacturers of masks, with each association taking the lead for contacts in its respective field
EURATEX, in cooperation with ESF and EDANA, published an online tool on their website to collect needs and proposals from material suppliers and finished device converters. Each association is promoting this online collecting tool to their respective networks.
Companies (be they suppliers or converters) are invited to submit their offers through this simple tool. The quality and veracity of the submissions are checked, after which a list of supply and demand is published.
To contribute to this joint effort of increasing capacity please :
EDANA will systematically identify requests that are relevant to EDANA members, such as needs for meltblown and other types of nonwovens, and inform participating stakeholders as completely and objectively as possible.
Suppliers of nonwovens related alternative technologies that could produce materials with similar properties as the meltblown nonwovens are also welcome and encouraged to contact EDANA and inform on their availability.