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Identifying fields of action for the substitution of petrochemical materials in textile medical disposables in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

12/01/2020 - 31/01/2022

Funding Volume:
€ 121,609.12

Funding Body:
Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the adequate provision of the general population and medical personnel or particularly exposed/vulnerable groups with medical equipment. The enormous increase in demand for textile medical disposables (tmd) such as general personal protective equipment, surgical blankets, absorbent pads, etc. affects the entire medical sector (hospitals, care facilities, hospices, etc.) and even extends into private environments.

As these items are primarily produced in Asia and the pandemic is causing considerable logistical constraints, it is currently not possible to meet the globally skyrocketing demand. Having been systematically reduced over the past decades, national value chains cannot contribute to the sufficient supply of critical tmd in Germany. Regional independent material flows that allow a transparent and quality-assured production of tmd are highly limited at the present time. 

The high demand for tmd is a result of the short life cycle (usually single use) in combination with the increased patient volume and also poses great challenges for European waste management, as the items’ contamination calls for necessarily separate material flows.

EU legislation only allows thermal processes for permanent disposal of infectiously hazardous waste; the use of sustainable recycling concepts is practically irrelevant from an economic point of view. Due to the high proportion of petroleum-based plastics (PES, PP, PE, etc.) in tmd, thermal disposal releases large quantities of fossile CO2 are released into the atmosphere. The increasing quantities of tmd to be thermally disposed of, therefore, raise great concerns as to their climate impact.


In this context, the R&D project CorTEX is dedicated to the potentials for substituting petrochemical raw materials with bio-based and regionally available raw materials in textile medical disposables. It is about identifying products and fields of application with high social relevance and the lowest achievable ecological impact, then developing solutions, and deliberately addressing them by preparing specific R&D projects.



M. Sc. Lovis Kneisel

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