University supports reusable mask trial for NHS

The University of Leeds is a proud participant in an on-going project to find a suitable reusable replacement to disposable face masks in the NHS.

The project is being led by Yorkshire Ambulance Service and contains over 50 organisations, from hospitals, ambulance services and GP surgeries throughout the UK.

The University’s involvement has originated through our leadership of the Leeds Anchors Plastics Network, which is a network of organisations across Leeds who are working collaboratively to share best practice and solve challenges around single-use plastic.

Here at Leeds, the Faculty of Biological Sciences are trialling the viability of the reusable face masks in terms of breathability, wearability, comfort and washing. They are also being asked to assess the circumstances that they wear the masks, how safe they felt in them and their usability.

The face masks on trial are supplied by accredited and certified British manufacturers and suppliers. Regular feedback is provided, in order for the manufacturers to modify the face masks and place them back into the trials.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS has shipped, used and disposed of over three quarters of a billion face masks. This number continues to rise every day as many hospitals are using between 10,000 and 100,000 face masks a day.

The PPE crisis is a mounting single-use plastics problem that will not diminish, and we are pleased to be part of a nationwide effort to looking at ways to reduce the pressure on the system and increase the sustainability of healthcare for the future.

If you would like to get involved in this study or are working to find alternative solutions for single-use plastic products, in the context of coronavirus or more widely, then contact us at

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United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our work collaborating with research and reducing single-use plastic is linked to the following SDGs:

  • Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
  • Goal 14: Life below water
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.