Frëtt Design of Caplan in Gaspesie is looking back on its successful new division business venture. In early April 2020, in the midst of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Frëtt Design created a new Research and Development division named Frëtt Solutions, in charge of the design and production of barrier face coverings. Reusable without limitation in the number of washes, ranked among the most effectives in Quebec, the Frëtt Solutions’ high performance face cover are aligned with the values of the company which has been manufacturing and distributing local, eco-friendly and ethical clothing since its creation in 1997. More than 40,000 units of this winning recipe have already been sold.
Frëtt Solutions is one of the few companies in Quebec with the ability and expertise to manufacture a reusable face covering that offers levels of filtration, breathability and spray protection on small particles greater than the ones required by the Robert-Sauvé Health Research Institute (IRSST), the laboratory mandated on that matter by the government of Quebec. These great results were obtained thanks to the hard work of the Frëtt Solutions team to find effective materials, and a unique design.
Rallying behind one single cause: the environment
“While municipalities want to reduce the amount of trash ending into landfills, imposing the disposable procedural mask on many workers is not a sustainable solution, and neither aligned with the values nor the current environmental standards. It is urgent that the CNESST allows the use of washable and reusable masks in companies in case they meet 100% of the standards for protection and breathability. Such a well worn mask is certainly worth a poorly worn disposable mask. Several Quebec employers are waiting for a new positioning of the CNESST to purchase high-performance, reusable and durable face masks”, explains Michelle Secours, president of Frëtt Design.
Conceived for the community, Frëtt Solutions masks are entirely manufactured in Caplan with products sourced in Quebec and Canada. This technological choice guarantees the Frëtt Solutions’ independence of from the pharmaceuticals and its autonomy in the event of an embargo on filter media, just like it occured at the beginning of the pandemic.
At 65%PFE (Particles Filtration Efficiency), Frëtt Solution’ face covers just don’t compare with artisanal fabric masks (between 5 and 20%); they on the other hand compete with disposable and highly polluting medical procedure masks (around 80%), while being reusable without any performance drop even after 50 washes, according to tests carried out in May 2020 by the IRSST.
Made of polypropylene fibers, single-use masks need 450 years to disintegrate into microparticles, hence increasing their harmfulness in the environment. Researchers at Halifax’ Dalhousie and Aveiro Universities have estimated the monthly global consumption at 129 billion units due to the fight against COVID-19, meaning a proportionate 130 million for the province of Quebec alone. From the start of the crisis, Frëtt Solutions has been well aware of the urgency to develop a high-performance and sustainable alternative to disposable masks. Five months later, benefits are showing.
The Frëtt Design’s R&D division of now aims at increasing this efficiency ratio up to achieve a durable mask as efficient as the disposable medical grade ones, or at least up to 70% like France and US currently require, designed and manufactured in Quebec with as much as possible of local resources. Tests are also underway to optimize the resistance of Frëtt Solutions’ masks up to a minimum of 100 washes.