New mask business aiming for fully-compostable product
Monday, November 16, 2020
A new Yorkshire-based mask making business aims to produce a fully-compostable disposable mask, with optional printing for branding or security purposes.
Henosis Masks has been co-founded by Mark Bennett, who spent years in print manufacturing with senior roles at Polestar, Garnett Dickinson, and YM Group.
The new masks business has been set up with equipment from DCR in Leeds, and is set to take delivery of further specialist kit from Engelmann & Buckham sister company Intamac Packaging Systems shortly.
Bennett said the initial investment of £250,000 had involved “a lot of R&D” to determine the best materials and production methods.
“People with a print background are versatile about running complex machinery. We looked at it as if it was a printing/finishing/boxing/distribution process,” he explained.
The five-strong operation is currently sub-letting 186sqm of space in Leeds but plans to move to its own site at Thorp Arch, near Wetherby.
He said that, as well as general demand for branded masks, there was an opportunity to provide disposable masks to organisations concerned about mask compliance within their buildings, at places of education, or at sporting events.
“Big businesses are worried about people coming into their buildings. Washable masks are not getting washed, and disposable masks are not getting changed either.
“We can make a mask that we can prove is current, by, for example, dating it or coding it,” he explained.
“Corporations should give masks away as someone enters a building, then have them discarded properly or composted is the way forward.”
The firm has a water-based inkjet printing systems for spot colours, but is also looking at the potential for four-colour print.
It is already exporting branded masks to the US.
Bennett said the new machine would allow the firm to make masks with integral ear loops made of the same material, which would allow the product to be fully-compostable.
One of its material suppliers is Ahlstrom-Munksjö, which has a mill in Scotland and makes sustainable fibre-based materials for applications including tea bags and coffee pods, and also for medical applications including face masks.
Henosis is making three-ply Type 1 and Type 2R masks aimed at civil, not medical use, and is in the process of gaining verification for its products.
Current capacity is 500,000 masks per week, rising to 1m/week next month, Bennett said.
He said the firm did not intend to try and price match cheap imported products, but hoped that the masks being made in the UK would be a selling point.
"People need some guarantee that the product is right, it can't all be done on price," he added.
A box of 50 plain masks costs £17.50+VAT and the minimum order quantity is 20 boxes. The firm plans to sell via resellers.
Henosis means “oneness” or “unity” in classical Greek.