Gianina Schwanecke / Stuff
Karamu High School students Sam Somerville-Ryan, left, Nikita Steffert and Jack Arcus hope to create a more durable type of plaster.
A group of teenagers from Hawke’s Bay have come together to create a more sustainable and inclusive type of adhesive bandage made from banana trees.
Karamu High School Grade 13 students Sam Somerville-Ryan, Jack Arcus, Nikita Steffert, Maia Bassett and Cody Baker are the brains behind the product, called Blend.
Steffert, a gymnast, explained that they wanted to create something innovative and sustainable that would help everyone.
Gymnasts are required to use tape similar to their skin tone for competitions to avoid being a distraction. “It’s the same thing with the casts, so that it doesn’t come out. That’s when I realized that there aren’t always products that match your skin tone. she says.
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The group has also identified the problem of bandage waste, with around 2,300 tons of adhesive bandages thrown into landfills each year in the US alone. “It adds up,” said Somerville-Ryan, the group’s chief executive.
Over the past two years, they have been developing the product using biodegradable fabric made only from banana trees sourced from Taiwan as part of their fledgling venture.
Still in the research and development stage, they hope to create their own brand of adhesive bandages, blended, using wood fibers and banana leaves grown in sustainable forests.
“They use the banana trees there and turn them into fabric,” Arcus said.
They first considered using a fabric made from bamboo, but found it to be less environmentally friendly. The big challenge was to find an environmentally friendly adhesive for the plasters.
They had originally also considered developing a single-use dressing, they realized they could further reduce plastic waste by producing it as a roll that people can then cut to size.
About a meter long and 6cm wide, one person can get around 50 standard-size bandages from the roll, which they say will sell for around $12.
The fabric will be dyed four to five different colors for different skin tones, hoping to extend the range further down the runway.
He hoped they would have a finalized product ready by September, which would need to be registered with Medsafe.
Arcus said it had been difficult to be small and compete with large plaster producers. “Putting it all together can be quite a difficult process.”
They are appealing to help get their product off the ground and ask anyone interested in getting involved to contact them at [email protected]