Lancaster University researcher’s life cycle analysis (LCA) finds local firm’s PPE visor produces 85% less carbon than popular alternatives

Richard holding a PPECO eco friendly face visor

Lancashire based start-up PPECO launched after winning a Innovate UK grant at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ambitious company founded by Richard Taylor set out to provide eco-friendly, plastic free face visors to meet UK demand. To validate their environmental claims, PPECO took on a Lancaster University (LU) intern to carry out an independent study.

Founder Richard Taylor commented, “it’s been a whirlwind from initially winning the grant, delivering the product in 6 months to the ability to produce up to half a million visors a week.”

“My background is industrial design consulting and packaging, and it was from my business connections and experience that I saw the opportunity to create a visor that wasn’t reliant on plastic. I then talked with suppliers and companies I’ve worked with previously and they were keen to get on board.”

“We developed what we felt was an environmentally friendly face visor for a number of reasons; one it has no plastic in it and two it’s also made from recyclable, eco-friendly materials. We were keen to prove the low environmental footprint with facts and figures to back it up.”

Through connections at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Richard was introduced to Daresbury Health Tech Cluster, then RTC North and finally LU’s Centre for Global Eco-Innovation (CGE) who could offer PPECO assistance and support.

CGE lead on Eco-I Northwest, which offers funded R&D and innovation support to businesses across the UK Northwest. The initiative is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is delivered by 6 of the region’s universities; Lancaster, Central Lancashire, Cumbria, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Met. After meeting with the team at LU’s CGE, Richard decided to collaborate with the centre and recruit an intern to carry out a life cycle analysis (LCA) on their product.

“Our intern Laura has been really impressive throughout the whole project, she jumped straight into it, mapping the products from raw creation right through to disposal mechanisms and recycling options. Laura delivered above and beyond the brief, benchmarking our product and conducting competitor analysis” explained Richard.

Laura Giles is studying an M.Sc. in Environmental Management at Lancaster and decided to apply for an internship to complement her study.

“This internship particularly spoke out to me because I’m really passionate about reducing the amount of plastic we use and throw away. The opportunity offered the chance to apply my skills in the real world and carry out useful research for an environmentally conscious company.”

Laura went on to say, “the visors are entirely paper based, have a corrugated frame and the shield is made from cellulose diacetate, which is a wood pulp-based material. The focus of my work was to calculate the carbon footprint of the visor’s life cycle and compare with current, highly available face shields used in UK organisations like the NHS.”

To establish a benchmark, research compared popular visors imported from China, other UK produced visors as well as PPECO’s product. Laura’s research demonstrated that PPECO’s product produced 85% less carbon per visors than other alternatives.

Richard commented, “PPECO are currently taking on a number of different tenders with NHS England, Scotland and local councils. We think we are in a good position because of Laura’s hard work. Anyone can say they have an environmentally friendly product, but we have an independent LCA report to verify this. This has given us the confidence to go out and pitch for new business.”

This enthusiasm is also felt by Laura, “it has been a privilege to work as part of a business that wants to make the world better through their product. Having the chance to verify the environmental credentials of a visor that fulfils health requirements was very rewarding.”

R&D and innovation support from The Centre for Global Eco-Innovation is funded through the European Regional Development Fund and available to Northwest-based SMEs (eligibility criteria applies). To find out more about business support and how to access it please visit: /global-eco-innovation/business/eco-i-nw/ or email

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