Pentatonic develops “world’s first” fully compostable face mask

The Masuku Daily is a single use mask made from bio-based materials which its makers say can decompose naturally in just eight weeks.

Design and technology consultancy Pentatonic has developed the “world’s first” high-performance, fully compostable face mask.

Face masks have become a huge part of life since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but single-use options have a marked effect on the environment. According to Pentatonic, the world disposes of three million face masks every minute – and each will take up to 450 years to decompose.

The Masuku Daily is an environmentally friendly alternative and has been designed by the company alongside fashion industry expert Natalia Vodianova.

“Each component has been re-engineered”

Like regular single use face masks, the Masuku masks are available in “surgical” and “flat fold” styles. However, the company says “not a single component is made from the same material as other single use masks”.

“Each component has been re-engineered and selected for specific performance criteria and can be broken down naturally, for example metabolised by bacteria,” says Pentatonic CEO Johann Boedecker.

Every mask is made from a proprietary nano-fibre filtration fabric, developed over the last four years at the company’s AirLab factory in Rotherham, England.

A “significant upgrade” on filtration

The fabric featured in the mask has been developed using a new electrospinning process, Pentatonic explains. In this process, bio-based polymers are spun into nano-fibres using a high electric voltage.

This method of creating fibres is claimed to be up to 15 times lighter than conventional melt-blown membranes, resulting in a more comfortable fit around the face.

Additionally, the company says it provides a “significant upgrade” on filtration efficiency – the technology works similarly to how a spiderweb catches particles, with fibres disperse with “extreme precision” for maximum performance.

The masks are each finished with similarly decomposable elements which also prioritise comfort. Orange earloops on both masks are made from 100% natural rubber, weaved with biodegradable yarn to ensure a good fit no matter the head size. Meanwhile the nose clip is a paper-coated iron wire.

Designers reinventing the face mask

Since the coronavirus pandemic broke out worldwide in 2020, designers have been eager to explore how masks can be reinvented.

Early on in the pandemic, big companies like Apple and Mercedes-Benz repurposed equipment to produce masks that could be used for different applications.

As the pandemic progressed, even more inventive options were pursued. A selection of “smart” face masks were developed by the likes of LG and AirPop, offering features like app connectivity to track what pollutants were encountered by the wearer.

Elsewhere, Benjamin Hubert was brought onboard to design a mask for lifestyle brand Never Go Alone, while US-based Sum Studio developed a “growable” mask made from bacterial cellulose.

Hide Comments (2)Show Comments (2)
  • Declan Stone February 10, 2022 at 8:30 am

    Face masks do not reduce the rate or risk of infection. They are inhuman. They have become a symbol of fear.

  • JK May 3, 2022 at 8:03 pm

    Unethical business

    A forward-thinking business so focused on what happens tomorrow, that they fail to see what’s happening in the present day, with no respect for their employees and lack the decency to pay wages.

    Masuku… “A joint venture between Pentatonic and Natalia Vodianova”. 4 years of development, but Masuku only lasted 12 months before they dismissed all staff with no notice, no redundancy, and no real explanation. With the Masuku HQ closed, and the business placed into administration what can be said about the infrastructure, strategy and vision of those at the helm of what was regarded as a revolutionary sustainable business.

    With Masuku HQ closed, and no other distributors, how are Pentatonic fulfilling orders on Global marketplaces where they are still actively selling? For a business with such powerful & clear brand messaging, there seems to be a grey area around business ethics.

    Without today, you have no tomorrow.

  • Post a comment

Latest articles